Cleaning up the Religion Debate

Lately there have been a few articles on Disinfo that eventually, either immediately or after a few days, spurred an argument that rears its head fairly often here. The debate between atheism and religion is one in which I usually enjoy taking part, and I like that it pops up on Disinfo with a certain regularity.  What I don’t like, what I suspect many of us don’t like, is that they often devolve into, if not begin as, something along the lines of:

Poster A:  religion is stupid

Poster B:  YOU’RE stupid

Sometimes it’s a little more eloquent, but this is the bare bones of it. Not very useful, nor very informative. This I think we can agree on.  So how does one go about creating a better, more informative dialogue? Can it even be done? One side believes the other to be irrational, delusional, utilizing a sort of maladaptive coping mechanism to either protect oneself from the harsh realities of life or as an easy way to answer the hard questions with which life presents us. Coming from the other direction, one side believes the other to be narrow-minded, hypocritical (“atheism is just another faith!”) and every bit as dogmatic as their opponents. Is there any ground between the two camps wherein a discussion can be had?

I believe so, and I think I’ve got the way to do it. First one must ask why the discussion even needs to take place. When these discussions occur, one may hear an oft-repeated cry for tolerance: “Why does everyone have to argue about this? Why can’t you just believe want you want to believe and let others do the same?”

Well, the problem is person x may believe that everyone needs to believe as they do, or that the laws of the land need to reflect person x’s religious beliefs because they are the basis for all morality. Allowing people to believe whatever they want means allowing them to act however they want, which means allowing moral crimes to occur. Person y believes that person x’s beliefs infringe upon their personal freedom by influencing the policies of whatever organizations that have an effect on person y’s life. So to answer the question of “why can’t we just let everyone believe whatever they want to believe”, it is because other people’s beliefs will affect you in real ways. We all share this ball of mud hurtling through space, and the things we believe can dictate how we act and how we believe other people should act. Other people’s beliefs don’t just stay in their head.

So now that we agree the discussion is inevitable, how can we go about it properly? If our goal is to have an informed and informative discussion in which there is a frank exchange of ideas, opinions and facts, how can we ensure that happens?

A productive way to move forward is to lay out some questions that will get to the heart of the discussion in a lucid, easy-to-follow way. For your consideration I have borrowed a set of questions from a fellow I speak with fairly often on Liminal Nation, a message board devoted to an “intelligent and visible” discussion on religion, occultism and associated fields. I will provide my own meager answers as examples, as well as to hopefully begin a rational discussion on the topic.

1.  What was the origin of religion? Can its origin be meaningfully traced at all?

I often hear atheists describe the origins of religion as proto-men drawing pictures on the walls of caves, of legends and superstitions from a time when our brains were wired up different and we were hearing voices in our heads. Religion comes from a time when we really didn’t know a lot about the world around us so we filled in the gaps with ideas that, from the perspective of the 21st century, seem silly, out-dated, and most importantly false.

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. “Religion” and “spirituality” are not synonymous. I grind my teeth when I hear people say “I don’t go for organized religion; I prefer a non-specific spirituality”. The reason is simple: there is no such thing as unorganized religion. Religion is an organized set of spiritual beliefs and rituals. It arose when mankind began to get itself more organized. There was a time when magic, science, and religion were considered the same thing and were generally handled by the same person. There is one religious tradition that all cultures on all continents share: Shamanism. The shaman was the person who would “travel” to the Other Worlds, returning with knowledge or power given to him by spirits or gods or whomever one runs into in the Other Worlds handing out knowledge and power. But at some point in the development of mankind, magic and religion began to separate.  It’s useful to consider when priests began to become separate entities from magicians. They became two separate jobs, performing different duties. The priest ran the rituals and served the public through the duties of an office in an organized religion.

The follow up question is very important, and it has quite a bit to do with what I was just talking about. Can this moment, this separation, be traced meaningfully? What if it can’t? More importantly, if religion IS a product of the past, why is it still around? Why is it still very, very popular? This leads us to the next question…

2. What functions does religion serve?

This is a difficult question to answer. There are many different religions, and many different people following these religions, and many different interpretations of the same religion. Attempting to answer this question seems to involve trying to get inside the heads of religious people.

Fortunately, there are ways to begin answering it. One can look to history to see what role religion has played in different countries at different times. I’ll leave this to others to investigate, but I can offer answers from my own experience.

When people ask me about my religious beliefs, I usually make a joke or brush it off or distract them or ignore it completely. I do this not because I don’t enjoy talking about religion, but because I don’t want to disclose that I worship Hermes Trismegistus, a fusion of the Greek deity Hermes and the Egyptian deity Thoth. Aside from the fact that it would break my dyed-in-the-wool Southern Baptist mother’s heart to learn I was involved with a *GASP* pagan deity, and thus am barely a step above worshiping Satan outright, in these times it is still considered odd to have a DIY religion or be involved with a deity whose worship insignificant numbers dropped off at least a thousand years ago.  It leads to dumb and occasionally insulting questions that I would prefer not to hear.

But the question is “what role does religion serve in my life”.  To be blunt, it helps me achieve my goals.  There is a style to Hermes Trismegistus, a way of operating, a style that I appreciate and want to incorporate into my own life. I find it graceful and a useful way to get what I want.  The objective existence of Hermes Trismegistus is unimportant; what matters is whether or not the things I do in regard to my religion actually help me accomplish my goals.

3. To what extent does religion serve as a psychological crutch for some people?  Does religion have legitimate functions other than as a psychological crutch?

I just told everyone that my own religion is basically a tool, a method for adjusting my behavior to get what I want, so I can’t deny that it functions as a tool. I wouldn’t call it a crutch; I can (and did for quite some time) get along without it with no adverse effects. I would not be limping along, psychologically-speaking. But what of other religions, specifically those that offer a “happy ending” for folks when they die?  What about those that offer (or demand) a set of behavior that takes care of a lot of decisions one runs into in daily life? How deep does that go, and is it a legitimate function of religion? Should it be? Marx’s famous phrase “Religion is the opiate of the masses”, is commonly thrown about. But few mention the sentence that is directly prior to that, wherein Marx calls religion “the heart in a heartless world”.

Since Abrahamic faiths are by and large the most popular in the west, it is obviously a good step to answer these questions as they pertain to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

4. Is there a significant connection between religion (as opposed to other aspects of human culture) and violence?  Between religion and morality?  Between religion and love?

This is similar to the question of what role religion plays in one’s life. This is a very meaty topic, so I won’t attempt to give any quick answers. I  hope this gets explored by others, though. These questions are important when one considers religion’s influence on morality and law, two areas where one’s religion intrudes on another’s religion (or lack thereof) and life in general.

5. Can Atheism be considered a faith?

This question, or rather answers to this question, are proposed very often here. Is the lack of a belief a belief, can atheism be considered a “belief” like Christianity?

Here’s a hint: no.

Militant atheists seem dogmatic, yes. They place a great value on reason and the scientific method, and since neither has produced any proof or anything close to proof, they don’t believe there is a god.  Is that the same as saying they believe there isn’t a god? Yes. Is it the same as a religion? No. The difference comes in the word “believe”, which is being used in two different ways when one says one “believes” in god and when one says one “believes” there is no god.  It’s a shame that one word can have two very different meanings, but that’s English for you.

For instance: I believe the sun will rise tomorrow. I have sufficient evidence for this. The belief is based on things like prior events and a heliocentric view of the solar system.  A belief in god relies on something very different, something called “faith”. Which leads us to the next question…

6. What’s up with faith?  I mean, what’s the deal there?

Okay, so it’s not phrased very eloquently. The same fella who offered these questions offered this quote from Sam Harris’s The End of Faith:

It takes a certain kind of person to believe what no one else believes. To be ruled by ideas for which you have no evidence (and which therefore cannot be justified in conversation with other human beings) is generally a sign that something is seriously wrong with your mind. Clearly there is sanity in numbers. And yet, it is merely an accident of history that it is considered normal in our society to believe that the Creator of the universe can hear your thoughts, while it is demonstrative of mental illness to believe that he is communicating with you by having the rain tap in Morse code on your bedroom window. And so, while religious people are not generally mad, their core beliefs absolutely are. This is not surprising, since most religions have merely canonized a few products of ancient ignorance and derangement and passed them down as though they were primordial truths. This leaves us believing what no sane person could believe on his own. In fact, it is difficult to imagine a set of beliefs more suggestive of mental illness than those that lie at the heart of many of our religious traditions.

Of what use is faith? Where does it crop up besides religion, and is it treated the same way when it does? Is it an essentially human thing? What is a life with faith like compared to a life without?

It is my hope that these questions lead to a discussion between atheists and those that follow a religion that isn’t based on insults and questioning the sanity of each other.

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  • Ixtasis

    The problem lies in the dichotomy itself, religious vs atheist. There are variances of almost every type in between but when it comes to the argument, it seems you have to choose one side or the other. If you refuse, the others will choose your side for you and pigeonhole you into an ideology or lump you with a group of people. It’s human nature. We are just arrogant and refuse to acknowledge our ignorance as a species. Many atheists would lump you into the religious category because you chose to have any mystical belief at all. While I do not believe in any formulaic metaphysical explanation or conformed vision of the unknown, to admit you don’t know, and have room for the mystical in your existence lumps you into the religious category by most atheists, who believe that you cannot believe in anything that cannot be proven by the scientific method and still be rational. Which, from my perspective, is completely irrational. 

  • Ixtasis

    The problem lies in the dichotomy itself, religious vs atheist. There are variances of almost every type in between but when it comes to the argument, it seems you have to choose one side or the other. If you refuse, the others will choose your side for you and pigeonhole you into an ideology or lump you with a group of people. It’s human nature. We are just arrogant and refuse to acknowledge our ignorance as a species. Many atheists would lump you into the religious category because you chose to have any mystical belief at all. While I do not believe in any formulaic metaphysical explanation or conformed vision of the unknown, to admit you don’t know, and have room for the mystical in your existence lumps you into the religious category by most atheists, who believe that you cannot believe in anything that cannot be proven by the scientific method and still be rational. Which, from my perspective, is completely irrational. 

  • Redacted

    I recently converted myself, due to my cat telling me of the word of Ba’al. He said I need to kill 100 furries, or I cannot enter Valhalla and bear the children of Shigeru Miyamoto.

    • anti-crowley

      I recently realized that humans came from first nothing spontaneously turning into something, then that something was struck by lightning and became life and then a few billion or if need be a zillion years later (which ever is required) is us.  Plus dark matter to make it all work nicely.  Somewhere in the middle we lived in the water.

      • Anarchy Pony

        And that makes less sense than an all powerful omnipresent super being somehow taking the general form of an adult male human appearing out of nothing how? 

        • anti-crowley

          Point being that evolution’s claim to be the “common sense” world view is anything but.  I accept the premise of God’s existence based on things like universal human morality, the very existence of evil ect.  Things that the evolutionist can’t ultimately explain.  Sam Harris tries, but leaves gaps in his logic.  Many things have to be believed without direct proof in evolution, it requires just as much faith as any other world view.  Believe as you wish, but claiming to be the only rational community is not reality.

          • Tuna Ghost

            Many things have to be believed without direct proof in evolution, it requires just as much faith as any other world view.

            This is categorically false.  There is ample evidence for evolution.  Aside from micro-evolution being directly observed, there are ways to test hypotheses and make predictions–for instance, for a long time people theorized that if the ideas about dinosaurs and birds were correct, then there would have to evidence of dinosaurs having feathers–which was then found.  Make no mistake, evolution is not a “theory” in the same sense that creationism is a theory.  There is a great deal of proof for it.  

          • Andrew

            Micro-evolution is to macro-evolution what inches are to miles.  One necessarily means the other.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Species_problem

          • Tuna Ghost

            Thank you.  For a minute I thought I was the only person who saw that garbage.

          • wjvillines.com

            It is facinating to see how people change to different words to try and change how they are viewed.

            micro-evolution, as you call it, is not evolution. It has been proven in genetic studies that each genetic structure has a wide range of variabilities that allow for the same genetic structure to produce wide variety of the species — such as a blue flowered pea plant vs a white flowered pea plant — this is refered to as genetic adaptation and there has never been a conflict between religious views and adaptation as it is plain as day. The part in evolution’s theory is that they lap this adaptation in to the change in speciation which is where you get biologicaly differernt species that may appear close but cannot truly cross into the same species such as the donkey and the horse who have only a single genetic variation that allows offspring which cannot successfully reproduce themselves.

            The theory of Intelligent Design also does not preclude the use of the genetic variability as a tool to allow genetic stabelization of life that is released into any given ecosphere.

            I think one of the biggest barriors to overcome all the disagreements is the “scientific process” is itself not stablized by the world of science. Take a look at any modern science texts and you will find that they define a hypothesis with such an identical manner as theory that people get the two mixed up in the media and therefore, at large

            As it was taught back in the 1980s and before (when the grip of theophobia in government institutions was not really present) and they used to teach such things as Greek Mythologies and Plato and Shakespear was taught in english classes (that was fading even when I was going to high school – by which time it was only G(ifted) A(nd) I(ntelligent) T(raining) that got those courses. That was when they also used to teach that a Hypothesis is an Educated Guess while a Theory was an Educated Guess that is able to stand up to testing. Testing is not speculation. Understand what you described as a “method to test hypothesis” such as evolution, that is calls prophesy (making predictions based on known data) and we have loads of them being done. Perhaps you have heard of Nostrodaumus? He has predicted many things that later have appeared to come true. That does not make it a valid test of a theory.

            Astrology has many of their predictions come true as to human behavior, but scientists dismiss it as pseudoscience because it aclaims a “spiritual” element. But if you actually do just a little research into astrology you will find that what it at its core is psychology. Think about it, often we associate Astrology to Astronomy, but its true core is a study of human behaviors based on a cause and effect study of external influences (which are based on valid scientific notions such as Magnetic Fields having a unique pull on iron (in our blood) and so forth).

            A test is a controled environment where one monitors the consequences of actions. Mathmatical modeling is not adequate to quallify as any kind of test. Find a good competent mathmatician and ask them if they can provide the mathmatical model that places the Earth at the heart of the universe where all things revolve around it, and they will tell you it can be done. Its complicated but it HAS been done. With math, any thing can be shown.

            Predictions and Math does not constitute testing. Take a boweling ball and a ping pong ball to 200 feet high and drop them at the same time, watching to see which will hit first — that is testing. Evolution cannot do that as the interference turns it into “intelligent design” because of an intelligent interference.

            Can you tell me the name of the Evolved Fruit Fly that has been bred in the more than 100 years of scientific raising of fruit flys? They are used because of their short life cycle resulting in many generations within a single year. Within the laboratory setting they have ALL their needs met to a plush and cushy level. These ideal conditions should have done more than increase their numbers or size. Has there been a report of a fruit fly suddenly having a more complex eye? or a reduced smell ability since they don’t need to smell long distances with food brought to them? They would be the place evolution evidence would probably be seen first (or over looked).

            There is evidence of animals developing differnet behavioral traits (chimpanses that do the homo dances and wall with a more up right fashion) that some are touting as evidence of evolution – neglecting the fact that the higher the intellect of the life form, the more impact on the mind abuses will have.

            Mankind has been taking chimpanzees out of their environment, experimenting both geneticly and psychosocially, and some take them as pets (some for sexual toys). Then when we are done, we take them back to the forest and put them back into the wild. They get taken back for a short time. Nature does not accept deviations (also proven by observation of many life forms) so these chimps would be ousted. They would also likely find eachother and form their own protective group and adapt their behavior to the last time they felt safe (with humans – Walking up right, sexual misbehaviors picked up from their handlers, etc.) and pass the behaviors to the subsequent generations who would not have any knowledge of the mistreatments.

            After fifty years — they would seem to be a natural phenom.

            Too often this is the way modern science progresses, with misrepresentation of what is being found because it suites the desire for money or promotes an evolutionary theory — worse is that the proofs that are debunked are quickly touted as evidence again, ignoring the sciencetific debunking.

          • Andrew

            It seems to me you’re the one changing words to change how things are viewed.  You might want to read the link I provided earlier about the Species Problem, and then http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_species

          • Redacted

            You people are arguing about a post where a guy said his cat talks to him.

          • Tuna Ghost

            All that text and not a bit of it addresses what I wrote.  

  • Anonymous

    I recently converted myself, due to my cat telling me of the word of Ba’al. He said I need to kill 100 furries, or I cannot enter Valhalla and bear the children of Shigeru Miyamoto.

  • Honu

    I love a good religious argument as much as the next guy but at the end of the day, debating about the BIG picture is useless and a pissing contest.  Personally I believe in a universal spirituality type matrix; kind of like the gaian perspective but even with what I believe, it doesn’t matter.  It’s all so much bigger, more dynamic and multidimensional than we can put into any belief system anyway. 

  • Honu

    I love a good religious argument as much as the next guy but at the end of the day, debating about the BIG picture is useless and a pissing contest.  Personally I believe in a universal spirituality type matrix; kind of like the gaian perspective but even with what I believe, it doesn’t matter.  It’s all so much bigger, more dynamic and multidimensional than we can put into any belief system anyway. 

  • Aram Jahn

    An exercise worth trying: whatever you want to say about religion, try to express yourself in E-Prime, which was invented by Alfred Korzybski, but he didn’t practice it. A student of his did practice it, D. David Bourland. He first used it around 1949. Quite a lot of philosophical moving parts underly it, but let it suffice: 

    E-Prime = English without any of the forms of “be” in it {am, is, are, was, were, be}. Robert Anton Wilson advocated this practice as a clarifying exercise for one’s prose. It seems ripe for any religious discussion…At least to _me_ it does…

    I don’t always use it, but when I do, I find it mildly alters my consciousness. YMMV, as “they” used to say.

    • anti-crowley

      Was this an automated spam posting for E-Prime?  You want me to practice something that the inventor didn’t practice?  I can get the same mild altering of my consciousness by watching Jersey Shore.  I propose you stop using all definite articles from your language…and if that doesn’t change your conscious state, remove all verbs.  What a comprehensive world view.

      • Tuna Ghost

        HEY!  I’m trying to have a reasonable and polite discussion here, I’ll thank you not to mention Jersey Shore in this comment thead. 

        Awful, awful people.

        • anti-crowley

          Don’t judge Jersey Shore, they are just “doing as they whilt!”

          • Tuna Ghost

            Bah.  They’re not motivated by their true will, they’re motivated by greed and desire.  That phrase of Crowley’s is as often misquoted as the Marx line I quoted in the article.

  • Aram Jahn

    An exercise worth trying: whatever you want to say about religion, try to express yourself in E-Prime, which was invented by Alfred Korzybski, but he didn’t practice it. A student of his did practice it, D. David Bourland. He first used it around 1949. Quite a lot of philosophical moving parts underly it, but let it suffice: 

    E-Prime = English without any of the forms of “be” in it {am, is, are, was, were, be}. Robert Anton Wilson advocated this practice as a clarifying exercise for one’s prose. It seems ripe for any religious discussion…At least to _me_ it does…

    I don’t always use it, but when I do, I find it mildly alters my consciousness. YMMV, as “they” used to say.

  • Dueyv9

    Two sides of the same coin can never look at each other and notice their differences. They can only be one.

    • anti-crowley

      Are  you currently standing with watermelons on your feet?  Cute phrase, but when you try to convert it to plane English you realize that the answer to the religion debate has nothing to do with metal currency…nice try though.

      • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

        Yeah, and not just the watermelons. They’ve got me balancing this tack hammer on my head. What’s that about?

        • Artor

          So that you can have a balanced attack, of course!

          • Anarchy Pony

            Head off your foes with a balanced attack. 
            Sorry, old force of habit.

  • Dueyv9

    Two sides of the same coin can never look at each other and notice their differences. They can only be one.

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    Before reading this:

    I’m only going to assume this is only going to make the debate more heated, or have the same points argued

    After:
    Hmm Maybe people will fall in line and do what you’re asking, and I really do hope so, but I still have my doubts. I think #5 will be the crack where misunderstanding might bleed out.

    • anti-crowley

      Tuna Ghost’s proposal for intelligent debate is just as much a dead end as the mud slinging approach, which Tuna Ghost has participated in as much as anyone else.  But it is much more laborious and time consuming.  Same tired arguments will be used with the same rebuttals. 

      • Tuna Ghost

        yes, you’ve told us that you consider it pointless.  Some of us would rather come to an informed opinion through investigation than land on one after giving up because it is hard or uncomfortable.  No one is making you stick around, buddy. 

        • anti-crowley

          HEY Tuna, I expect that attitude from these others or perhaps myself, but you must rise above…its your article here specifically about not lowering yourself to this level.  Leave the mudslinging to us who have no standards in logical argument.  I’m simply testing to see how many people could read your article, then immediately cease to resist the temptation to sling mud at me.  So far, I win.  Go write another love letter to Crowley while you put on your black lipstick…perhaps re-watch the Twilight trilogy and cut yourself, that should help you release….its what crowley would have wanted.

          • God

            Anti-Crowley, you’re getting carried away again.  How many times have we been over this, you and I?  I’m going to stop listening to your prayers, and possibly even revoke your “unlimited weekend rides” pass in heaven if you continue with this incessant trolling.
            However, if you sacrifice a small child for me, we’ll call it even and you can keep your rides pass.

            Oh, and stop masturbating!

          • anti-crowley

            Gotta admit, pretty funny.  But that was just a lucky guess about me masturbating.

          • Tuna Ghost

            So far, I win.

            I think we’re playing different games, brother.  

          • anti-crowley

            and apparently yours does not involve a sense of humor.  I will from now put “lol” after all my sarcastic remarks…see what you have reduced me to?

          • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

            “lol”

      • Mysophobe

        “Aleister Crowley is a craven, godless, homosexual pervert with a sinister agenda who is after your children’s souls!”

        Sounds familiar. Still terrifying folks like you from beyond the grave. He’d be delighted, I know I sure am.

        • anti-crowley

          Nobody is reallly terrified of him, we just see him as a pathetic, depraved sexually deviant drug addict (which is what he was.)  He was great at convincing youth of his radical views, congrats AC.  I’m as terrified of him as I am of Colligula.

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    Before reading this:

    I’m only going to assume this is only going to make the debate more heated, or have the same points argued

    After:
    coming soon

  • Mr Willow

    Hmmmm. . .

    I view religion, spirituality, magic(k), and science as methods of relating to the Universe. I think it is very sad that most people are not more interested—or at least accepting—of esotericism, magic(k), or metaphysics of some sort. 

    I mostly regret this because as you pointed out, it was once all identical to—or at the very least a happy medium between—religion and science. The separation, by the way, happened first with the Christianisation of Europe. Before that, there were other forms of Christianity, some of them quite mystical, which worked on the idea that each of us contained Christ, and could thus become as Jesus through things like meditation. The Church, in its lust of power, could not possibly allow this, as with groups like the Gnostics and Rosicrucians, where everyöne was essentially their own priest, there would be no need for the Church, and therefore noöne to lord their power over, and noöne to pay them through tithe. The Church separated magic(k) from religion, as all magic(k) not performed by priests was deemed evil. This can most clearly be seen when one reads any of the mediæval grimoirs anyöne interested in the occult would inevitably stumble across (Goëtia, Pseudomarchia Dæmonum, The Magus, etc.), as they are almost all concerned with incantations binding Biblical demons or directing Biblical angels to do one’s bidding. In restricting this to priests, they preserve their authority, which is why most people associated with the occult (Waite, Mathers, Barrett, etc.) were condemned as heretics, because it would discourage others from discovering the knowledge the Church had been hoarding for however long. 

    Until the Renaissance, then, magic(k) and science were regarded with little delineation. For the most part, this was because God was not yet separated from Nature, as Nature was seen, largely, as a physical manifestation of God, and that through the study of Nature, one could understand God. Astrology and alchemy are the most apparent examples—because it involves some manner of greater/broader/deeper meaning behind physical objects, related to divinity—but many people forget that magic(k) is often described as the art and science of bringing change into the world through the mind or will—whether that be through works of art, writing, (see Alan Moore) or actual, simple focus, or through the use of spiritual agents—and are unaware that many occult practitioners hardly rely on faith. They would not put all the effort into the rituals, quite simply, if the effort bore no experience. It is as much evidence-based as any science is. The difference between that and the evidence of a physical science is that (in the great majority of cases) evidence witnessed in a mystical experience or occult setting is entirely subjective. If others are present, there is about a fifty-fifty chance that they will experience anything, and a less chance that they will experience it the same way. 

    In mysticism, one is dealing with one of the strangest things anyöne has encountered: the human mind. A thing so entirely strange that it must be approached on a case-by-case basis, and one that, ostensibly, is somehow threatening to modern materialists, as it is not something—as can be seen with the various failings in the psychological/psychiatric industry—that can be as easily categorised and standardised. 

    Are the experiences had in hypnotic, transcendent, or meditative states as real or valid as those had in waking? Possibly. As of yet, it is impossible to say conclusively. It is up to the individual having them to decide. 

    As such—that is, because nothing in this area of study or inquiry can be reduced to simple formula or equations—it was separated from science, after science became more interested in more materialistic explanations for every process placed in front of them.

    Of faith: I define faith as a median or compromise between hope and trust, especially in regard to things like religion. When one says “I have faith in (person or concept” I take it to mean that they place trust in it—either meaning they place trust in their own experiences or trust in the person telling them of their experiences or beliefs (this can be anyöne from a friend to a pastor) and a vague hope that what you have experienced—or what someöne has said—is legitimate and true (not factual necessarily). 

    Personally, I fancy myself an Animist. I see the Divine in everything, and treat everything as if it had a soul. If I am to honour the Gods, or the Fates, I will offer some silent prayer at any situation I find appropriate, or something of that nature. Magic(k), for me, is a means of contacting or intimating with either my inner god or my soul or the spirits, gods, and various other intelligences of the Universe (depending upon one’s interpretation). 

    Is any of that ‘real’? The hell if I know—It is impossible from an objective point of view to ‘know’ and I honestly do not find that question pertinent—but it’s damn interesting if you take the time, have the patience, and are willing to assume the proper mental state to do everything properly. And while I do not make it the main focus of my life, and it in no way informs the vast majority of my decisions, I would consider it personally important, at least to a moderate degree. 

    • Redacted

      Only retarded people believe in Magic(k).

      Personally I fancy myself an Entropist. Life itself is the meaning of life, and what we do with it is of our own volition.

      • Mr Willow

        Guess I’m a retard then. *shrug*

        Depends on one’s definition. If you mean magic(k) as in shooting fire from your hands or controlling the weather, I don’t necessarily believe in that—but I’m a quite whimsical individual who thinks there is no such thing as impossibility, nor the supernatural, only improbability and the unnormal—but if you mean a means of controlling one’s own emotions and/or physiology through meditation or changing others’ thoughts through art or music or prose or anything else, that is a different thing altogether.

        • Tuna Ghost

          Alan Moore had a great bit about the link between art and magic in some interview that I dearly wish I could find–according to him, they’re basically identical.  It’s a perspective that I’m growing more and more certain of the more I study.  

          • anti-crowley

            Probably has something to do with altering the Alpha, Beta and Delta brainwaves am I right?  It’s called altering your state of consciousness and we do it every day when we do things like sleep.  Some us it to communicate with the spirit world, which they assume are all malevolent in the New Age/Nuetics  system.  Christians call them demons.

          • Tuna Ghost

            No, it was more about its role in human development and its movtivations and goals.  Not every artist alters their consciousness when they create, nor does every magician. 

          • Honu

            I think you can argue that when an artist is in the throes of their art, they are in an altered state of consciousness.  Maybe not chemically induced in all cases but the act of creating is an altered state.

          • GoodDoktorBad

            Perhaps every new thought or idea is an altered state….

          • Tuna Ghost

            I think we may need to nail down a stricter definition of what we mean when we refer to consciousness, if we can.  What changes?  What changes to what?  Is this a neurological discussion or a mystical one?  

          • Honu

            It’s a good question but you might as well try to define the soul which is as equally difficult to define.  And why is it so important to you to clean up this discussion about religion anyway and make definitions?  The rational mindset which is so dominant in the western world, can’t look past it’s own limitations to see that it is in fact a belief system in and of itself.  Just because the world is made up of Newtonian physics doesn’t mean it also isn’t made up of quantum physics which blatantly defies the ‘A+B=C’ approach to understanding our world and our universe.  Sometimes you have to use other faculties to understand the bigger questions you’re trying to address here and when you take this into account, there’s no religious debate to clean up because the debate is limited to begin with.

          • chubby

            oh gosh all these posts and here is a nice orderly piece of truth…

          • GoodDoktorBad

            I prefer Dill pickles….Yummy!!

          • anti-crowley

            I would disagree, creative modes tend to operate in higher Alpha brainwave frequencies.  Any significant change in brainwave freqs is a chance is consciousness.  Like I said, we change levels of consciousness many times every day depending on our level of alertness.  We are most likely talking about the same thing.  I was talking about using the lower levels of brain wave function to communicate with entities which people give various names.

          • Tuna Ghost

            True, but without trying to get into a discussion on “what is art?”, one must consider things like photography or commissioned work or acting–although it could be possible that the “magic”, the real working, is happening somewhere else or at some other time.  Writers have told me that everything they do when they’re not writing is where the real action takes place, putting the pen to the paper is merely the manifestation of the actual “writing”.  

            I leery of calling any significant change in brainwave frequency an altered state of consciousness, it seems like it would involve far too many states to be considered useful.  

          • Mr Willow

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdNbocU6wKc

            (may need to turn the volume up)

          • Ixtasis
          • dumbsaint

            You guys know Disinfo is the distributor for that DVD right?

      • Tuna Ghost

        Crowley defined magic(k) as causing a change in one’s self or environment through an act of will, which seems pretty easy to accept as possible.  It’s the “how” that causes most people to think he was nutty as well as the corresponding metaphysical perspective.  

        • anti-crowley

          Crowley also engaged in sexual intercourse with underage male kids and regularly used narcotics.  While we are at it, what was Jeffery Dahmer’s definition of magic(k)?

          • Tuna Ghost

            He was prescribed narcotics for his physical ailments, and i’m not about to judge him for having sex with a 16 or 17 year old male. Why on earth are you comparing him to Jeffrey Dahmer? 

          • anti-crowley

            I will go ahead and judge him for having sex with a 16 or 17 year old (and much younger) it’s called rape.  Wonder what his definition of THAT was.  I compare them because they are both morally depraved and degenerate, which I thought was apparent in my comment.

          • Mr Willow

            it’s called rape

            Not if it’s consensual. 

            Rape is the act of physically forcing an individual into sexual intercourse. And sexual relations between persons younger than eighteen is only considered ‘morally depraved and degenerate’ to contemporary sensibilities. In centuries past, it was not uncommon for men (sometimes quite old) to marry thirteen year old girls, and such a practise was seen as socially acceptable. 

            The repugnance associated with sex involving anyöne under the age of eighteen is a fairly recent phenomenon—I think a hold-over from Victorian-era sensibilities, which were so incredibly sexually repressed that a woman’s bare ankle was considered lewd or risqué.

          • anti-crowley

            Spoken like a true NAMBLA member, keep lobbying to congress, eventually sex with kids will be legal for you.

          • Tuna Ghost

            For someone whose posts suggest a christian, you do a fair bit of judging and name-calling.  A christian troll?  How…unremarkable.  

          • TennesseeCyberian

            I will be the first to agree that anti-crowley has an ax to grind, but let’s not get carried away in defending “the wickedest man in the world.”  Crowley called himself “The Great Beast 666,” and while it was a bit of a tongue-in-cheek reaction to Christianity, he did plenty of vile things to live up to the moniker.

            It seems like folks of such liberal predilections would not be so quick to defend Crowley.  He waxed poetic about eating turds in “Leah Sublime,” he brutally used women as little more than a means to an end, he occasionally refered to blacks as “niggers,” and was by all accounts a psychopath.  As for Tuna Ghost’s downplaying of Crowley’s drug habit, he did pen the (autobiographical?) novel “Diary of a Drug Fiend,” did he not?  He also squandered his inheritance and contributions from his followers–sounds like a drug fiend to me.

            Maybe Crowley’s recommendation to murder children as the most potent blood sacrifice was more sarcasm–then again, maybe it wasn’t.  I wouldn’t put it past him.  Even his followers, such as Israel Regardie, agreed that almost anyone who got close to Crowley either killed themselves or went insane.

            There is much to study and admire in Crowley’s work, but for God’s sake, don’t whitewash his character.

          • Tuna Ghost

            Out of curiosity, have you read Diary of a Dope Fiend?  He was an addict, but not a willing one.  Obviously he wasn’t without his problems and is open to all sorts of criticisms, but anti-crowley has managed to avoid all of the legitimate criticisms and focus on the bullshit rumors.  

          • TennesseeCyberian

            No, I haven’t read that one.  That’s why I wasn’t sure how much of “Diary”–if any–is autobiographical.  I have read his “Confessions,” however, in which he is in constant search of “sugar” toward the end.  Crowley enjoyed many drugs–reefer, mescaline, heroin–as well as every weird combination of sexual partners one could imagine.  That doesn’t freak me out, but it does tell me a lot about what “do what thou wilt” meant to him.

            The best books that I’ve read by Crowley are “Magick in Theory and Practice” and “The Book of Lies.”  The former leaves the impression of a clear-headed occultist, the latter is a collection of intentionally head-spinning snippets.  In the end, both have an infernal spirit.

            One of the most relevant books I’ve read about Crowley is Gary Lachman’s “Turn Off Your Mind,” originally published by Disinfo.  Though it is not primarily about Crowley, it does chronicle his influence on the modern New Age movement in an entertaining way that really impressed me.  Anyone interested in Magick and Pop Culture should check it out.

          • Mr Willow

            That’s funny. 

            I offered a definition and historical context, since apparently you cannot distinguish between ‘rape’ and ‘molestation’ and are unaware that this business of setting a certain age at which it is then legally acceptable to deflower an individual has only been around for the past century and a half. I did not state my opinion on the matter. 

            In my opinion, having the ‘legal’ age set at eighteen is dismissive and insulting to the intelligence and volition of a sixteen year old. If you cannot decide at sixteen whether or not you want to have sex, then you might as well give up at life. I agree a thirteen or fourteen year old is probably not ready, but that is speculation and an exercise in lumping all thirteen and fourteen year olds together. I contemplated myself at fourteen whether or not I was prepared, or at least wanted to, but that is not true for every fourteen year old. 

            And before you say something like—“Well a sixteen year old could have sex (whether that entails being pressured into it or not) and then regret it afterward, for a variety of other reasons. It could ruin their lives!”—may I point out this may be equally true of a twenty year old or a thirty five year old, though admittedly less likely.

          • Andrew

            What exactly would “giv[ing] up at life” entail?

          • Mr Willow

            In context of making a personal decision concerning one’s own attitude toward having sex—do you want to, or not want to, or do you think you are ready or not ready? (probably could have phrased it better or more specifically)

            Relinquish all personal decision making to another individual. 

          • anti-crowley

            I stand corrected…crowley was a molester.  Now we are all happy.

          • Guest (you turd)

            As of this posting, the legal age of consent in England is sixteen. Perhaps you should not be so quick to place your own ideas of what constitute an adult on the rest of the world (who tend to have a better grip on these things anyway.)

          • Anarchy Pony

            dahmer also killed and ate the underage males he had sex with. That seems a might worse.

          • GoodDoktorBad

            At long last, we are graced with your presence. Welcome. 

            Did he do those things -really? Who knows what he did? Were you there? I think not. If he did do those things and you get your way he’s already burnin’ in the lake o’ fire any way. So why kick a dead man? Anger and wrath were among the “deadly sins” weren’t they? You may get to join him -Mr. Brimstone.

            Abandon hope ye who enter here!

          • anti-crowley

            Dante, good quote.  I say that crowley didn’t actually write those things, I think through the years his work has been corrupted, perhaps he didn’t even really exist.  After all, why should the Bible be the only work these arguments are used against?  BTW, I’m not getting my way, I had nothing to do with the creation of hell or whether or not crowley is there.  If crowley is in hell it is soley because he willingly chose to exist separate from God, he got what he wanted.

          • Guest

            If you thought Crowley was trying to separate himself from God, I’m not sure you’re qualified to be the anti-crowley.

          • anti-crowley

             BTW, the “deadly sins” is Catholic dogma.  All sins are deadly in the fact that they separate you from God.  Actually the Bible says to be angry and sin not.  God many times in the Bible gets angry and wrathful.  Catholicism may be popular, but I would say is absent of any credibility, I’m sure you would agree with that.

          • GoodDoktorBad

            I’ll admit, Christianity in general takes a big slap from the past and present deeds of Catholiclism. The whole guilt-by-association thing has its effect. 

      • Bozo the Clown

        “Only retarded people believe in Magic(k)”. Hmmm. I wonder how many thoughts are your own. Even your avatar pic isn’t original. Your mind has obviously been spammed. How many brand name products are in your house right now? Maybe you believe in magic after all.

    • Tuna Ghost

      I think it is very sad that most people are not more interested—or at least accepting—of esotericism, magic(k), or metaphysics of some sort. 

      Some people simply are not at all interested in their relationship with the infinite, which I also find fascinating.

       The separation, by the way, happened first with the Christianisation of Europe.

      I can’t speak for pre-christian europe, but it happened in africa and the middle-east loooooooong before Christianity or Yahweh made their appearance. It happened when society became organized to a degree (not long after the switch from hunting to a more agrarian lifestyle) that spiritual beliefs and rituals became codified.

      • Mr Willow

        I can’t speak for pre-christian europe, but it happened in africa and the middle-east loooooooong before Christianity or Yahweh made their appearance. It happened when society became organized to a degree (not long after the switch from hunting to a more agrarian lifestyle) that spiritual beliefs and rituals became codified.

        I’m sorry, I was mostly speaking of the occidental situation, but I am honestly a little surprised by your statement that magick was separated from religion in Africa and the Middle-East before the advent of the Abrahamic faiths. 

        From what I can tell, the Mesopotamians, the ancient Persians, the Babylonians, etc. all had very rich and detailed religions before Judaism was established in the region, and Africa, at least in certain regions, has a well-established belief in magic that persists today. In all these instances, magic was integral, and in some cases essential, to their religion. It was slightly more oriented toward priestcraft or shamanism than not—so it was somewhat authoritarian in the same way 15th century Christianity was, where the priests, medicine-men, and shaman all dictated the will of the gods, the spirits, and whatnot to the rest of the community—but there was very little separation between religion and the magic used within religion, or little doubt in those practising the religion in the potency of magic. 

        Admittedly, I have never been overly interested in the spiritual traditions of the region(s). I have done some brief, cursory study, but nothing very in-depth, but I would welcome some erudition.

        • Tuna Ghost

          …but I am
          honestly a little surprised by your statement that magick was separated
          from religion in Africa and the Middle-East before the advent of the
          Abrahamic faiths.

           

          It’s not so much a separation of magic from religion, but more of a separation between priests and magicians.  You’re correct in that most indigenous religions still have a lot of what we would call magic, but this was the time that the role of priests became separate from that of magicians.  The traditional role of the shaman had become split as religion became more and more organized–the priest intervened with the gods on behalf of the society through organized rituals that more or less everyone was involved in, whereas magicians did not have a specific role to play or duty to society to perform.

          • Mr Willow

            Thank you for the distinction.

    • GoodDoktorBad

      Good post. 

      I have become a bit obsessed with the subjects of reality, abstraction, faith or belief, free will etc.
      I’d like to point out the trap of trying to explain things in words. I have found that words and language in general are all metaphor for individual and collective experiences. Language works best to describe common experiences. (ie. when we say the word “cat” we all picture a furry carnivore in general, but each person may picture the details of “cat” very differently). All words carry a necessarily unique meaning and portent to each person who uses and interprets them. 

      Which brings us to words like “faith”, “God”, “Magick”, “athiest” and “religion” in particular. The common Webster’s definitions are incomplete and insufficient. They are esoteric in nature. Things esoteric in nature are to be fathomed only through experience, not so much by the exchange of words or by the riddles language constantly present us with. As they tend to do, discussions on this topic generally serve to further confuse and befuddle us. We keep stepping in the cracks of understanding that exist between what we mean and what we say. What is said and what we hear and interpret. Abstraction and reality. Description of a thing is not the thing itself.

      What actually happens of course, can not be contained in words. The experience that one has -IS reality.
      The “common reality” is simply what has been commonly experienced. It what the phrase “common sense” is based on. Basic things, most of us can agree on. Things like: water is wet, heat is hot, the sun is bright etc.etc. Beyond these things it seems as though there is nothing apparent that binds our individual realities together. Perhaps faith or God or whatever is that binding force that bridges our realities in its infinitly subtle ways….

      • anti-crowley

        Unless God is real, then he is the basis for reality.  In order to have true reality, one must have all information on the state of all things at the exact same time, hence only a God with that ability can contain reality.  If we don’t match that reality then what we experience is not reality, just our perception of it.  Reality/truth are not subjective, they just are…whether we are on board with it or not.  Good post GDB.

        • GoodDoktorBad

          Well, here we have my discomfort with using the word “God” -cropping up. I assure you my beef is not with God per say. It’s that word. A word with so much garbage poured on it, I just don’t know what the hell people are talking about when they throw that word around or how they will interpret it when and if I use it.

          “In order to have true reality, one must have all information on the state of all things at the exact same time…”

          The truth is I have no idea about anything about whether God exists if I have no experience of “him” or it.  As I know not The Dude personally…then again perhaps I see his mark every day and pass it by for some reason. Alas I do not know.

          The truth is an abyss I will not fathom in totality any time soon, which ironically is a parallel to the understanding of “God” as I’ve heard. Perhaps God is just the sum-total of everything I don’t understand, metaphorically and literally.

          I’m sure that something interesting is going on. Details to be revealed at a later date I suspect… 

           

          • Tuna Ghost

            Where’ve you been, Doktor?  Been a while.

            I’m sure that something interesting is going on.

            Cut to Carrie Ann Moss whispering “it’s the question that drives us” into our collective ears…

          • GoodDoktorBad

            Well, ya know, the man been keepin’ me down and shit. I got bitch slapped off the throbbing teat of the internet due to non-payment for services. I was brutally weaned. But now I have clamped my hungry mouth back on the udder to join again with my faceless friends and wallow in our wordy excretions. Oh the sweet milk of life!

            >yeah The Matrix (the first movie especially) was an earth shaking creation in terms of expanding perception  of being part of much larger and largely invisible machine, system or Matrix. Not that I would take the story itself literally in any way of course, but is was replete with useful  and interesting mystical references that really got you thinking about the nature of reality.

            Indeed, it IS the question that drives us…  

          • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

            I always liked the “everything we dont understand” definition of god, because even if it isnt exactly right, it still contains god by proxy (because we of course don’t understand it)

  • Mr Willow

    Hmmmm. . .

    I view religion, spirituality, magic(k), and science as methods of relating to the Universe. I think it is very sad that most people are not more interested—or at least accepting—of esotericism, magic(k), or metaphysics of some sort. 

    I mostly regret this because as you pointed out, it was once all identical to—or at the very least a happy medium between—religion and science. The separation, by the way, happened first with the Christianisation of Europe. Before that, there were other forms of Christianity, some of them quite mystical, which worked on the idea that each of us contained Christ, and could thus become as Jesus through things like meditation. The Church, in its lust of power, could not possibly allow this, as with groups like the Gnostics and Rosicrucians, where everyöne was essentially their own priest, there would be no need for the Church, and therefore noöne to lord their power over, and noöne to pay them through tithe. The Church separated magic(k) from religion, as all magic(k) not performed by priests was deemed evil. This can most clearly be seen when one reads any of the mediæval grimoirs anyöne interested in the occult would inevitably stumble across (Goëtia, Pseudomarchia Dæmonum, The Magus, etc.), as they are almost all concerned with incantations binding Biblical demons or directing Biblical angels to do one’s bidding. In restricting this to priests, they preserve their authority, which is why most people associated with the occult (Waite, Mathers, Barrett, etc.) were condemned as heretics, because it would discourage others from discovering the knowledge the Church had been hoarding for however long. 

    Until the Renaissance, then, magic(k) and science were regarded with little delineation. For the most part, this was because God was not yet separated from Nature, as Nature was seen, largely, as a physical manifestation of God, and that through the study of Nature, one could understand God. Astrology and alchemy are the most apparent examples—because it involves some manner of greater/broader/deeper meaning behind physical objects, related to divinity—but many people forget that magic(k) is often described as the art and science of bringing change into the world through the mind or will—whether that be through works of art, writing, (see Alan Moore) or actual, simple focus, or through the use of spiritual agents—and are unaware that many occult practitioners hardly rely on faith. They would not put all the effort into the rituals, quite simply, if the effort bore no experience. It is as much evidence-based as any science is. The difference between that and the evidence of a physical science is that (in the great majority of cases) evidence witnessed in a mystical experience or occult setting is entirely subjective. If others are present, there is about a fifty-fifty chance that they will experience anything, and a less chance that they will experience it the same way. 

    In mysticism, one is dealing with one of the strangest things anyöne has encountered: the human mind. A thing so entirely strange that it must be approached on a case-by-case basis, and one that, ostensibly, is somehow threatening to modern materialists, as it is not something—as can be seen with the various failings in the psychological/psychiatric industry—that can be as easily categorised and standardised. 

    Are the experiences had in hypnotic, transcendent, or meditative states as real or valid as those had in waking? Possibly. As of yet, it is impossible to say conclusively. It is up to the individual having them to decide. 

    As such—that is, because nothing in this area of study or inquiry can be reduced to simple formula or equations—it was separated from science, after science became more interested in more materialistic explanations for every process placed in front of them.

    Of faith: I define faith as a median or compromise between hope and trust, especially in regard to things like religion. When one says “I have faith in (person or concept” I take it to mean that they place trust in it—either meaning they place trust in their own experiences or trust in the person telling them of their experiences or beliefs (this can be anyöne from a friend to a pastor) and a vague hope that what you have experienced—or what someöne has said—is legitimate and true (not factual necessarily). 

    Personally, I fancy myself an Animist. I see the Divine in everything, and treat everything as if it had a soul. If I am to honour the Gods, or the Fates, I will offer some silent prayer at any situation I find appropriate, or something of that nature. Magic(k), for me, is a means of contacting or intimating with either my inner god or my soul or the spirits, gods, and various other intelligences of the Universe (depending upon one’s interpretation). 

    Is any of that ‘real’? The hell I know—It is impossible from an objective point of view to ‘know’ and I honestly do not find that question pertinent—but it’s damn interesting if you take the time, have the patience, and are willing to assume the proper mental state to do everything properly. And while I do not make it the main focus of my life, and it in no way informs the vast majority of my decisions, I would consider it personally important, at least to a moderate degree. 

  • Anonymous

    Only retarded people believe in Magic(k).

    Personally I fancy myself an Entropist. Life itself is the meaning of life, and what we do with it is of our own volition.

  • DeepCough

    You can have my copy of “The God Delusion” when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!

    • anti-crowley

      I’ll just take Christopher Hitchen’s copy when he dies, which is soon.

  • DeepCough

    You can have my copy of “The God Delusion” when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!

  • SandBKnox

    “Faith means not wanting to know what is true” Nietzsche.  Atheists want to know what is true.  Ergo, Atheism is not a faith.

    • Tuna Ghost

      Well, that’d be fine if Nietzche’s definition were considered fact, which it is not.  

  • SandBKnox

    “Faith means not wanting to know what is true” Nietzsche.  Atheists want to know what is true.  Ergo, Atheism is not a faith.

  • Mr Willow

    Guess I’m a retard then. *shrug*

    Depends on one’s definition. If you mean magic(k) as in shooting fire from your hands or controlling the weather, I don’t necessarily believe in that—but I’m a quite whimsical individual who thinks there is no such thing as impossibility, nor the supernatural, only improbability and unnormality—but if you mean a means of controlling one’s own emotions and/or physiology through meditation or changing others’ thoughts through art or music or prose anything else, that is a different thing altogether. 

  • Stumage

    If a neutrino can go faster than the speed of light, then anything is possible.

    • anti-crowley

      Except Tuna Ghost accepting Jesus as personal Savior.  TG is not THAT open minded.  TG rebelled against the Christian upbringing  and cannot separate Christians who misuse their religion from God, who does not answer for them, but instead judges them as he does all human beings.

      • Tuna Ghost

        I’ll admit I was raised in the faith, but I dispute that I am unable to separae Christians from Christianity or God.  Why do you think this is the case?

        • anti-crowley

          Just the fact that I have known many with similar beliefs as yourself who fit the description.  Usually someone who differs from how they were brought up has a rebellious explanation for doing so.  That applies to all world views.  I went through something similar myself a few years back.

  • Stumage

    If a neutrino can go faster than the speed of light, then anything is possible.

  • matlock

    i think i can guess what your religion is

  • matlock

    i think i can guess what your religion is

  • Azathoth

    >The belief is based on things like prior eventsWhat? So all they’re saying with “I don’t believe in God” is “God hasn’t directly interacted with me until now”? That still doesn’t mean “God doesn’t exist”, which is what atheists claim. NOTHING could mean that, because it’s an unfalsifiable statement: that’s why both answers to the God questions are based on faith.The only sensible thing we can talk about is our relationship with it, never God itself. The problem isn’t even God, it’s people. I assure you that if someone is a stable enough guy without many issues, he won’t try to use God as an excuse to impose his authority over someone else, which is the main reason why religion is attacked in the first place.That’s also why every religious debate is so inflammatory: it’s almost never about religion, it’s mostly about everyone’s personal experiences with different people abusing religion to act like a dick. Or, in the defending side, about people who used it to do something great. But on either side, we lump all the people we’re focusing on in the word “religion”, and then wonder why it feels like we’re talking about different things.

    • Tuna Ghost

      So all they’re saying with “I don’t believe in God” is “God hasn’t directly interacted with me until now”? That still doesn’t mean “God doesn’t exist”, which is what atheists claim. 

      I believe the claim is that not only has God never interacted with them, he hasn’t interacted with anything, that not only is there no evidence for his existence but there is ample evidence that it is impossible for God (as he is commonly understood) to exist.  

      NOTHING could mean that, because it’s an unfalsifiable statement: that’s why both answers to the God questions are based on faith.

      The problem with using “falsifiable/unfalsifiable” as a yardstick for a statement having meaning or validity is that, as the Verificationists discovered, it leads to a self-defeating perspective.  The Verificationists Theory is that if a statement cannot be verified as either true or false then it is essentially meaningless.  Unfortunately, the Verificationists’ Theory is itself cannot be verified as either true or false, so by its own definition it is meaningless.  

      I agree that the strong atheism motto of “God Doesn’t Exist” (as opposed to weak atheism, “There is no evidence for God’s existence so I don’t believe in God”) seems arrogant to me.  But it can’t be denied that the mainstream understanding of God flies in the face of everything we know about how the universe functions, which, while you can’t prove a negative, does rather put his existence into doubt.  Simply put, our understanding of science leaves no room for God (again I must use the caveat “the mainstream understanding of God”) to act upon our material world.  

      I assure you that if someone is a stable enough guy without many issues, he won’t try to use God as an excuse to impose his authority over someone else, which is the main reason why religion is attacked in the first place.

      I must disagree here.  Christianity is not just a religion, it is used as a basis for morality and ethics.  According to the vast majority of his followers, God is the ultimate authority, God’s law is the ultimate law, and thus we are all bound to serve it.  Christian morality is used as a basis for a lot of laws in the western world.  Your statement is referring to the madman butchering people or committing other atrocities in the name of God, but it is much more common for God to be used in a far more subtle way to legitimize someone’s authority.  

      • Azathoth

        >he hasn’t interacted with anything

        How could anyone possibly know that?

        >The Verificationists Theory is that if a statement cannot be verified as either true or false then it is essentially meaningless

        What’s the problem with that? A statement that relies ONLY on faith is by definition meaningless to those who don’t have it. If everyone realized that, we’d stop talking so much about it, and go on with our life. And talk about religion only in the extent it is used to influence our lives. Talking about existence or non existence is pointless, because that by itself doesn’t really influence us (or, if it does, it does in a way we can’t see, control, or predict, so you may as well not think about it)

        > But it can’t be denied that the mainstream understanding of God flies
        in the face of everything we know about how the universe functions

        Well I just said it’s pointless to talk about those things, but I won’t deny I did my share too (and that’s how you come to understand it’s a waste of time) and I never understood this argument. I mean we’re talking about an entity that has complete dominion over the whole of creation. If he wanted us to believe that everything is in a certain way, he’d have no problem doing so. In the scenario of a universe where there is a God, every investigation on the nature of the universe will never be something absolutely certain. Tomorrow everything could change, we could know nothing about it, and talk with confidence about things we’re convinced always existed in a certain way while they really didn’t until yesterday. So.. What value does “everything we know about how the universe functions” have in such a scenario?

        >Your statement is referring to the madman butchering people or committing other atrocities in the name of God

        Well there’s that too but I was really more thinking about how common people would use their faith to win arguments or get ahead or judge people.. Which is something that often happens, and it doesn’t help anyone. Those people would have done the same thing with any other source of authority, because they have issues, God has nothing to do with it. In the same way, emotionally stable people with faith use it in more of a constructive way, as a source for hope, and to more easily forgive people. God, like any idea, is a tool, so it depends on the individual how it’s used.

        • Tuna Ghost

          What’s the problem with that?

          As I mentioned before, it’s self-defeating.  “A statement that cannot be verified as true or false is meaningless” is itself a statement that cannot be verified as true or false. 

           If he wanted us to believe that everything is in a certain way, he’d have no problem doing so.

          There are some pretty severe moral, epistimelogical, and metaphysical ramifications to accepting this that I am not at all sure you’d be willing to take on board.  Descartes discussed this very notion in the same work in which his famous “Cogito ergo sum” makes an appearance, I recommend you take a look.

          In the scenario of a universe where there is a God, every investigation on the nature of the universe will never be something absolutely certain….What value does “everything we know about how the universe functions” have in such a scenario?

          That’s true of a universe without a God too.  That knowledge, however fleeting, has nevertheless helped us grow and build amazing things.  Are you suggesting that because our understanding of the universe is constantly changing, there’s no reason to investigate it?  Or no reason to adjust our understanding of God in light of this knowledge?  Seems a bit like giving up a bit early, doesn’t it?

        • Tuna Ghost

          >he hasn’t interacted with anythingHow could anyone possibly know that?

          How do I know this is what strong atheists think, or what justification do atheists use to defend this statement?  Regarding the former: because they tell me.  They’ll tell anyone, really.

          As for the latter, because there is no evidence of his acting on anything and a good amount of knowledge that shows that it is impossible anyway, if you consider God to be acting outside of observable natural forces. 

      • anti-crowley

        We have recently (as a race) discovered that the universal constant is not constant, a particle that possibly travels faster than the speed of light and that dark matter cannot exist.  The arrogance of thinking we know a fraction of anything is a mistake that scientists have made as long as there have been scientists.  Why we think that we have finally reached that stage where we cannot have a paradigm changing discovery in fundamental science is beyond me.  We are intellectually arrogant with information and always have been, with both religion and science.  When we use the term “have an open mind” what we really mean is “stop believing what you believe and believe as I do.”  It is in our nature.  When someone touches on a fundamental belief and tells us that it is wrong, we react in self defense.  It is cognitive dissonance.  Lets just get on with the mud slinging and realize that we cannot change it.  Plus it is entertaining and informative to hear the raw beliefs of those who hold nothing back on the world of internet anonymity.  Those who have decided that they have the answer and will not change, will not change regardless of the proofs provided.  That being said…if the God of the Bible is real we can expect that there will be a major attack on Israel in the next year, Israel will come out on top and rebuild their temple in East Jerusalem.   If this happens then you have your proof in the Christian and Jewish God being real.  If Russia, Iran and their supporters win, then the God of Islam is real.  Any other result and “other” is real.  Either way, Crowley was still a drug addicted pedophile, that is a scientific fact.

        • Andrew

          What in the Bible specifies an attack in the next year?

          • anti-crowley

            Ezekiel 38 is the Gog Magog account.  Based on Christs eschatology in Luke 21 and the parallel passages we know that the generation that saw Israel brought back into existence in 1947 will not pass away until the great tribulation begins.  I come up with the next year for several reasons, mainly the Arab spring started by Russian and Iran in Egypt, Libya and Syria.  30 years of stable boarders becoming unstable, Palestine putting a bid in with the UN security counsel for statehood recognition.  Finally the fact that all the New Agers and ecumenicals believe winter solstice 2012 is the start of the new age (sun rising into Ouroboros’s head ect.)  They all are primed a waiting to accept a false messiah and one world religion.  I’ll stop there. 

        • TheYawningPreterist

          “Israel will come out on top and rebuild their temple in East Jerusalem…” You do realize that the temple was already destroyed and rebuilt quite some time ago? And therefore there is absolutely no reason – as far as these silly prophecies are concerned for why it should have to be rebuilt all over again. You should Google “preterism” and educate yourself. I highly recommend this is as a stating point: http://en.preterism.com/index.php?title=Frequently_Asked_Questions   

          “…If this happens then you have your proof in the Christian and Jewish God being real” How do you figure? I could see it being explained as self-fulfilled prophecy but that’s about it…

          • anti-crowley

            The reason it would have to be rebuilt is because it exists during the last days, I am well aware of the second temple period and the siege of Jerusalem and destruction of the temple in 70 AD, as is the entire Jewish and Christian community, thanks for reminding me though.  As far as the silly prophecies, they predicted one world economy, Israel’s existence despite being surrounded by nations bent on their destruction.  BTW find another nation that has been dispersed for more than 500 years, then returned to their original land while maintaining their identity.  The Jews did is for 2500 years.  As well as complete global economic super-inflation (coming soon) as well as extreme weather, specifically earthquakes in diverse places and increasing in intensity and frequency.  I will amend my statement of “proof” and change it to evidence. 

          • TheYawningPreterist

            So I take it you did not even bother clicking on the link about Preterism? Typical fundie…can’t pull your head out of your own ass for two seconds to try and see the world from an alternative perspective. 

            Besides, all of the so-called “prophecies” in the Bible could easily be explained away as having been self-fulfilled. Israel could have just as easily set up shop in Canada or here in the states…they chose to invade and occupy Palestine…their choice. There are alternate realities where they did set up shop in alternate locations…just think about how much more calm/peaceful/rational those worlds must be! We are simply unlucky enough to live in one where a bunch of self-righteous Zionists with delusions of grandeur – backed by apocalyptic-crazed fundamentalists – decided to “fulfill” a prophecy.    But just for fun – assuming the Preterists are right and all of the end-times prophecies have already been fulfilled – why is that such a bitter pill for you to swallow? I have a theory: all of you fundies get off on the apocalypse and if you stop focusing on it for even a moment, you lose your spiritual hard-on. I just wish you would keep your sick, twisted, and immoral fantasies to yourselves…whatever it takes to get you off, fine…but please leave the rest of us out of it, thanks.  

          • anti-crowley

            And your proof of these alternate realities?  I agree, you should be the only one allowed to share you sick, twisted and immoral fantasies with everyone and you should be able to do it in all zillion of your realities.  The rest of us need to just shut up and let you have your way, good point.

          • TheYawningPreterist

            The many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics is admittedly controversial but there are many who support it. For more info, here’s another link I am sure you won’t bother checking out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Many-worlds_interpretation

            How convenient that you choose to completely ignore the part of my post about self-fulfilled prophecies…

            Yes, you have freedom of speech, just like the rest of us…but look what you are choosing to do with it: spewing archaic nonsense which glorifies ignorance while simultaneously encouraging death and destruction, while the rest of us are trying to proactively deal with all of the man-made chaos which we find ourselves wallowing in…

            I don’t have the time or patience to wait for Jesus to intervene…if he were the manager of a company, he would have been fired and taken to court for gross negligence (amongst many other charges…)

          • Tuna Ghost

            How convenient that you choose to completely ignore the part of my post about self-fulfilled prophecies…

            He has a habit of ignoring questions he finds inconvenient.  It’s best not to take him very seriously.  

          • anti-crowley

            or anyone else who disagrees with you, that’s the norm around here.  Trust me, it is WAY easier to take that approach.  BTW TG, read the above post where I did address the self fulfilled point.  You are falling into the mudslinging arena, invalidating your entire article.  Basically what your article says is “I am sick of people slinging mud, because when it starts I can’t help but jump into it.”  I see plenty of mudslingers in here who don’t respond to anything, yet you failed to mention it.  You’re blatant bias against Christianity over any other system of belief has always been obvious.

          • anti-crowley

            Are you blaming Jesus for our economy?  Try money grubbing central banks and those in government who accept contributions to push legislation on their behalf.  I wonder what you personally are doing to handle the “man-made chaos?”   I choose to believe in the one reality I see.  In that reality I have documents that describe all of these events we see today.  You can contribute them to the theoretical multiverse which many theoretical physicists reject.  Thanks for the wiki link, but contrary to your presumptuous and ignorant premise, I am fully aware of the current theories of quantum mechanics.  You don’t seem to be, my guess is that you watched “What the bleep down the rabbit hole” and now consider yourself an expert.  Real quantum mechanics makes no claims about what occurs in those other dimensions, just that mathematically they can exist.  You are speaking more about the new age spin on what secular scientists have proposed.  Your spin, if presented at a major conference, would be laughed out of the room.

            I don’t encourage death and destruction, I simply state that I believe it is going to happen.  Which by the way, many secular foreign relations advisers also warn of.  Are they abusing their freedom of speech?  I don’t necessarily support Israel in all they do, I just believe that when the nations attack them, God will stop those nations.

            The self fulfilled argument is arbitrary.  The prophecies throughout the Bible say nothing about man not causing them to happen, it just states that it will happen.  The fact that the Bible’s predictions would be so difficult to cause to happen all at the same time 2,000 years afterward is just as astounding.

          • TheYawningPreterist

            “Try money grubbing central banks and those in government who accept contributions to push legislation on their behalf.” Well, there you go…we actually agree on something. A miracle? I would not go that far…statistically, it was bound to happen eventually.  

            “Real quantum mechanics makes no claims about what occurs in those other dimensions, just that mathematically they can exist.” Exactly…they can exist and therefore, we can speculate about them. It is a thought experiment…an attempt to see things from an alternative perspective in order to gain additional insight into our own experience.    “The fact that the Bible’s predictions would be so difficult to cause to happen all at the same time 2,000 years afterward is just as astounding” What is astounding is that you make fun of a movie like What the Bleep (which again, we actually agree upon, as being ludicrous) while simultaneously embracing the preposterous notion that any of the so-called “prophecies” from the Bible contain even an ounce of legitimacy… 
            Again, from a Preterist’s point of view, ALL of these prophecies have already been fulfilled. And from a logical point of view, you completely refuse to acknowledge the role which self-fulfillment can play in making any of them “come true”. Is the Farmer’s Almanac prophetic? Is Philip K. Dick prophetic?   

          • TheYawningPreterist

            PS: As far as your “evidence” is concerned, we still don’t have a one-world economy, though personally I think it is a great idea. And in a Multiverse of infinite alternate realities, there will be some in which a one-world economy evolves and some in which it does not…its existence (or non-existence) will not be proof of anything except for what it is (or is not…) 

            Also, claiming earthquakes as evidence? Really?? How much would you like to bet, that in a hundred years from now when Jebus still has not returned and there are even more earthquakes than there are now, that there will still be frothing fundies like you prattling on about said quakes still being “proof” of something other than the fact that the earth’s crust shifts and moves from time to time, without any thought whatsoever as to the poo-flinging apes who just happen to inhabit its surface?

            I will leave you with this lyric, one of my all-time favorites, in the hopes that one day it might “click” for you on some level or other: “I’ve changed my mind, that’s what it’s there for…” – Jhonn Balance   

          • anti-crowley

            Not a one world economy!?  Someone has been living under a rock for the last 3 years.

          • TheYawningPreterist

            I thought you were referring to a one-world currency (which again, I think is a great idea…)

          • anti-crowley

            you and most others, which is why it is going to happen.  IMF and World Bank have been drafting one for years.  China and the others of the cooperation counsel have been pushing it since 2008.  Another lucky guess from our prophetic friends 2,000 years ago.

          • TheYawningPreterist

            Lucky guess is not much of a stretch when you really think about it…having a consistent currency is a very practical idea and probably made even more sense back then when you take into account that their “world” was a lot smaller than ours is today (ie: whole continents unexplored and unknown…)

        • Matt

          As a christian, I have to say you’re nuttier than squirrel turd. I don’t know a single atheist or even pagan for that matter that looks up to crowley, many don’t even know who he is. Discrediting crowley helps your argument ZERO. I believe God is our lord and savior but damn man. Chill out. At least consider the possibility that because man is corrupt that maybe religion and scripture have been altered to serve not God but the greed of man. Consider that the idea of God is too important to trust in the hands of mortals. If you believe in God that’s what you’re doing. Putting faith not in God but in the men and women that have told you so by word of mouth and by scripture. Scripture that has been passed down and translated, edited, interpreted numerous times by men and women. It’s faith that these individuals have carried out Gods word verbatim. I for one don’t trust that. Find God of  your own accord. Pay no attention to the bible, church, scripture, crowley, your parents. None of it. Find God on your own. Or just wait until you meet him in death. And yes we don’t know alot about our universe but until we meet God for ourselves, those blanks are not gonna be filled in by him. Not until he decides to return. Science is the best we have for understanding our universe until we meet God in the afterlife.

          • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

            You are my favorite theist.

          • anti-crowley

            Gradient’s comment should be a red flag to you Matt.

          • anti-crowley

            Matt, you sound like any other belief system except Christian.  God examine what makes someone a Christian.  I believe a God powerful enough to create the universe can handle ensuring that his message to mankind is preserved.  We also have Polycarp, Clement of Rome, Ignateous, Ireneous, Origins, Eusebeus and about 7,000 manuscripts and papyri to confirm that the Translations are correct.  We also have tens of thousands of scholars around the world studying every jot and tittle of those manuscripts in all available languages.  Your ignorant statement about the translations and such is a typical statement made by those who have ZERO knowledge of all the work that I have mentioned.  BTW, we also have a healthy amount of information from Romans and Helenistic Jews of the time such as Josephus Flavius and Philo Judaeus of Alexandria confirming much of the New Testament.

            I choose to place my belief in the one true God because I see prophecy concerning Israel written in 6th  century BC being fullfilled.  Not only in Israel becoming a nation after over 2,500 years of being dispersed throughout the world.  But right down to the enemies that are now rising up against it and it being a “cup of trembling to all the nations”.  I also see the first 3 seal judgments of Revelation (3 of the 4 horsemen) of world governance (seals 1 & 2) and world economic collapse through super inflation (3rd horseman.)  Pretty accurate prophecy for someone 2,000 years ago.  I’m sure he got lucky though, I shouldn’t trust his writings?  You need to do some serious thinking about whether or not you actually believe in Christ brother, looking at the world today, time is just about up.

          • Matt

            God ensuring that his message to mankind is preserved?? He gave us freewill, brother. It’s men that run the printing presses. Who wrote those manuscripts? Men did. You, and many others unfortunately operate under a circular reasoning fallacy. Your line of thought attempts to use the conclusion of an argument as proof of the assumption. For example: “How do I know the Bible is true?  Because God wrote the Bible.  How do I know God wrote the Bible?  Because it says so in it, and it’s true.” I have faith in God but I also have a brain.

          • anti-crowley

            Thanks for the lesson in rhetorical procedure Matt, sounds like you just read your 1st book on logical debate.  Keep reading and get to the straw-man chapter, then re-read my comment, not just the parts of it that you try to squeeze into your tired attack. 

          • Matt

            There was no book. You were saying?

          • anti-crowley

            Oh I’m sorry, what I was saying is this.  Based on your statements about how the Bible is corrupt and not trustworthy as God’s word, I wonder how it is you claim to be a real Christian?  Instead I submit that you are not actually a Christian, but tried to claim to be one in order to gain some sense of validity in trying to refute me.  Which lasted about ten seconds after your post hit.

        • Tuna Ghost

          Either way, Crowley was still a drug addicted pedophile, that is a scientific fact.

          From anyone else, I’d automatically assume this is a joke, but I have a feeling you’re being serious.  Aside from the fact that science has nothing to do with it, AND that his drug use has already been explained to you as prescribed by a doctor, what evidence do you have that he was a paedophile?  I’m guessing somewhere in the neighborhood of…nothing.

          • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

            “The newsroom is no place for a woman and That is a scientific FACT!”

          • anti-crowley

            Gradient got my joke.

          • anti-crowley

            I recant all statements about Crowley, he is the base for which we should place all morality.  I have seen the light and suddenly all of crowley’s rants seem like they will fix this world’s problems…how did I not see this before?   Whether or not you want him babysitting for you..go ahead tuna.

        • Anarchy Pony

          Uh, it’s far more likely that Israel is going to do the attacking. What with all the offensive weapons they have been accumulating lately. 

          • anti-crowley

            I agree, its far more likely.  Which is why if they are instead attacked it would make my belief in Biblical prophecy more resolute.

  • Azathoth

    >The belief is based on things like prior eventsWhat? So all they’re saying with “I don’t believe in God” is “God hasn’t directly interacted with me until now”? That still doesn’t mean “God doesn’t exist”, which is what atheists claim. NOTHING could mean that, because it’s an unfalsifiable statement: that’s why both answers to the God questions are based on faith.The only sensible thing we can talk about is our relationship with it, never God itself. The problem isn’t even God, it’s people. I assure you that if someone is a stable enough guy without many issues, he won’t try to use God as an excuse to impose his authority over someone else, which is the main reason why religion is attacked in the first place.That’s also why every religious debate is so inflammatory: it’s almost never about religion, it’s mostly about everyone’s personal experiences with different people abusing religion to act like a dick. Or, in the defending side, about people who used it to do something great. But on either side, we lump all the people we’re focusing on in the word “religion”, and then wonder why it feels like we’re talking about different things.

  • Tuna Ghost

    So all they’re saying with “I don’t believe in God” is “God hasn’t directly interacted with me until now”? That still doesn’t mean “God doesn’t exist”, which is what atheists claim. 

    I believe the claim is that not only has God never interacted with them, he hasn’t interacted with anything, that not only is there no evidence for his existence but there is ample evidence that it is impossible for God (as he is commonly understood) to exist.  

    NOTHING could mean that, because it’s an unfalsifiable statement: that’s why both answers to the God questions are based on faith.

    The problem with using “falsifiable/unfalsifiable” as a yardstick for a statement having meaning or validity is that, as the Verificationists discovered, it leads to a self-defeating perspective.  The Verificationists Theory is that if a statement cannot be verified as either true or false then it is essentially meaningless.  Unfortunately, the Verificationists’ Theory is itself cannot be verified as either true or false, so by its own definition it is meaningless.  

    I agree that the strong atheism motto of “God Doesn’t Exist” (as opposed to weak atheism, “There is no evidence for God’s existence so I don’t believe in God”) seems arrogant to me.  But it can’t be denied that the mainstream understanding of God flies in the face of everything we know about how the universe functions, which, while you can’t prove a negative, does rather put his existence into doubt.  Simply put, our understanding of science leaves no room for God (again I must use the caveat “the mainstream understanding of God”) to act upon our material world.  

    I assure you that if someone is a stable enough guy without many issues, he won’t try to use God as an excuse to impose his authority over someone else, which is the main reason why religion is attacked in the first place.

    I must disagree here.  Christianity is not just a religion, it is used as a basis for morality and ethics.  According to the vast majority of his followers, God is the ultimate authority, God’s law is the ultimate law, and thus we are all bound to serve it.  Christian morality is used as a basis for a lot of laws in the western world.  Your statement is referring to the madman butchering people or committing other atrocities in the name of God, but it is much more common for God to be used in a far more subtle way to legitimize someone’s authority.  

  • Tuna Ghost

    Well, that’d be fine if Nietzche’s definition were considered fact, which it is not.  

  • Tuna Ghost

    Crowley defined magic(k) as causing a change in one’s self or environment through an act of will, which seems pretty easy to accept as possible.  It’s the “how” that causes most people to think he was nutty as well as the corresponding metaphysical perspective.  

  • Tuna Ghost

    Alan Moore had a great bit about the link between art and magic in some interview that I dearly wish I could find–according to him, they’re basically identical.  It’s a perspective that I’m growing more and more certain of the more I study.  

  • Lucid Silverback

    “…to hopefully begin a rational discussion on the topic.”

    And there’s the rub.

    To say the least, it is difficult -if not impossible- to engage in a rational process of discourse with individuals whose world view and thought-process is based on superstition and the supernatural.

    • anti-crowley

      Like the belief in nothing producing everything and the existence of dark matter…correct Lucid?

    • Sangproductions183

      But what about people who have actually experienced the supernatural? Even when it was the last thing they believed in, with other witnesses around, and against all rational or possible explanations? Oh, they were probably on drugs… right? Because personal experiences can’t be entered as evidence until it happens to you.

      And in the entire universe, there are no such things as an alien species, because I haven’t experienced it.

      • TennesseeCyberian

        That is the trickiest aspect of the whole debate, in my opinion.  It is one thing to argue about the rationality of God or not-God, it is another entirely to explain experiences of God.

        There have been many neurological explanations proposed, some more convincing than others, but even that doesn’t put the questions to rest (for me.)  If you see a cup of coffee, that is a neurological phenomenon.  Why wouldn’t your brain light up when you see a ghost?

        Even trickier is deciphering the true visions from the caprice of one’s imagination (if there is a difference).  Psychotic murderers apparently speak to Gods and demons, Hindus dream of Krishna and Christians dream of Christ, and even huffing gasoline can provoke profound visions.  If humans do, in fact, possess a third eye, it is covered with a thick film of imagination and delusion.  Once you make the leap to begin viewing the world as magical, you are confronted with new problems of truth and consistency.

    • Tuna Ghost

      Hmmm “supernatural” is a cop-out and a strawman.  According to the believers, what occurs is well within the boundaries of the nature our world. 

    • Tuna Ghost

      Also: then why is it so popular?  Other irrational beliefs are not as accepted nor as popular, even ones with cultural value to them; why is religion different?

    • Lucid Silverback

      Damn humans trying to put the primate in a box.

      To clarify my exposure to information, I’ve been seriously digging into UFOs, Terrence Mckenna, Graham Hancock, Bill Cooper, Jim Marrs, Jordan Maxwell, forbidden archaology, and pretty much everything in existence on the fringe subjects for thirty+ years. I’m no stranger to ideas like ancient aliens, DMT entities, secret societies, underground/water bases, psychic abilities, MK Ultra, Project Blue Beam, MJ12, Nazi UFOs, abduction, fairy lore, magic, and mythology. In fact, I’m quite the paranormal-addict, and I love it all. I was brought up in a religious household and am very familliar with the religious community yet, have also steeped myself in Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, Grayling, Dennett, Joseph Campbell, etc., and also in the myths and religions around the world and throughout history.

      It’s not like I’m saying strange things don’t happen. This universe is an amazing and mysterious place indeed. I just choose to steer my interpretations toward a rational explanation, as all things supernatural or superstitous are outside the realm of reality. For example: if someone experiences a phenomenon, I am of the opinion there is a rational explanation for that event which falls within the domain of physics and physiology. Notice how I said, I am of the opinion. Belief is a tricky word, as was pointed out in the article. Believing something without flexibility is just as -if not more- counterproductive as having too flexible a belief structure and believing all sorts of nutty stuff. This is not to say I actively debunk all phenomena outright and suggest people were hallucinating or saw swamp gas instead of a flying object or whatever. I’m open to the possibility of holograms, Nazi/US Black govt. secret projects, or even extraterrestrials. I just can’t make the leap to BELIEVE in anything when the subject is shrouded in such ambiguity and disinformation. God, angels, the devil and heaven/hell simply fall so outside the realm of probability, it isn’t worth considering. Besides, God or the devil could just alter the universal laws to confound me if I tried to figure it out, right? Even if I could sort of believe in a god, one ends up with the infinite regress into “who made god”, or where did the energy of the big bang come from in the first place if I were to believe that theory. No, I work with what’s most likely and what makes the most common sense in accordance with the laws of physics and mathmatics as we presently understand them.

      The rational mind makes its assessments in relation to possibility and probability in concert with empirical evidence. For example, I am of the opinion global climate change is happening and I lean toward the opinion mankind is most likely partly -if not primarily- responsible. That being said, if I’m presented with new evidence which contradicts my position, I change my position. In fact, the reason I say lean toward is I have recently been presented with convincing evidence the Sun is quite probably partially responsible. Unfortunately, people who believe something -and I mean really believe it- especially in cases supernatural/superstitious, are adverse to having their paradigm crumble or be seriously revamped as they possess mystical knowledge or the ultimate truth. Thus I find it ironic modern christians have latched on to the idea of teaching the controversy when they consider their own doctrines the holy word of an all powerful blood god, and above question. But I have digressed.

      Okay. To stop rambling on, and hit a couple replies…

      Anti-crowley: I think I answered you above. I don’t necessarily BELIEVE the big bang theory and in dark matter. It’s a theory and like any rudimentary theory, it has holes, and I’m sure a better one will reveal itself sooner than later.

      Sangproductions183: I sort of answered you too, but to be clear… The probability of extraterrestrial life is profound. The probability humans often misinterpret their experiences is also profound. It is much more challenging to wrack one’s brain seeking a rational physical/physiological understanding than taking the short cut to simplistic mystical or magical thinking. Regarding witness accounts, I do not dismiss them whatsoever. I do diminish the facthood of their individual conclusions though. Only through the exhaustive study of a body of experience and information can one hope to approach an understanding.

      Tuna G: I agree supernatural is a cop-out: a cop-out from determining the real reason behind a particular phenomenon. If it’s supernatural then it is beyond nature’s laws and cannot be understood scientifically. Other than select mormons, the scientologists, and maybe some jehova’s witnesses, I think you’d be hard pressed to find “believers” who fit your description. And regarding religion’s popularity, I expect it has something to do with the sense of purpose or inflated potential, and the sense of “the flock” which accompanies religious dogmas. No one likes to acknowledge the meaninglessness of it all, or feel all alone in life’s precarious struggle to survive. Religion’s antiquated myths and dogmas solve both those problems by providing two things in particular: meaning and community.

      • Tuna Ghost

        So you see religion as providing meaning in the followers’ lives?  I can see that working for the Abrahamic faiths, but indigenous religions and eastern religions don’t have the same perspective.  Why are they still popular?  

      • Tuna Ghost

        Other than select mormons, the scientologists, and maybe some jehova’s witnesses, I think you’d be hard pressed to find “believers” who fit your description. 

        Not true, sir.  When asked for an example of prayer being an effective means of change, they’ll give a completely natural (as opposed to supernatural) explanation and then say “…God willed that to happen”.  When god acts, according to them, it manifests itself through completely natural means.  Nobody believes god is going to be zooming around on a cloud throwing lightning bolts at people or picking them up via telekinesis and hurling them into a lake of fire created by the earth tearing open, his will (allegedly) manifests itself through seemingly normal phenomenon.  

  • Lucid Silverback

    “…to hopefully begin a rational discussion on the topic.”

    And there’s the rub.

    To say the least, it is difficult -if not impossible- to engage in a rational process of discourse with individuals whose world view and thought-process is based on superstition and the supernatural.

  • Azathoth

    >he hasn’t interacted with anything

    How could anyone possibly know that?

    >The Verificationists Theory is that if a statement cannot be verified as either true or false then it is essentially meaningless

    What’s the problem with that? A statement that relies ONLY on faith is by definition meaningless to those who don’t have it. If everyone realized that, we’d stop talking so much about it, and go on with our life. And talk about religion only in the extent it is used to influence our lives. Talking about existence or non existence is pointless, because that by itself doesn’t really influence us (or, if it does, it does in a way we can’t see, control, or predict, so you may as well not think about it)

    > But it can’t be denied that the mainstream understanding of God flies
    in the face of everything we know about how the universe functions

    Well I just said it’s pointless to talk about those things, but I won’t deny I did my share too (and that’s how you come to understand it’s a waste of time) and I never understood this argument. I mean we’re talking about an entity that has complete dominion over the whole of creation. If he wanted us to believe that everything is in a certain way, he’d have no problem doing so. In the scenario of a universe where there is a God, every investigation on the nature of the universe will never be something absolutely certain. Tomorrow everything could change, we could know nothing about it, and talk with confidence about things we’re convinced always existed in a certain way while they really didn’t until yesterday. So.. What value does “everything we know about how the universe functions” have in such a scenario?

    >Your statement is referring to the madman butchering people or committing other atrocities in the name of God

    Well there’s that too but I was really more thinking about how common people would use their faith to win arguments or get ahead or judge people.. Which is something that often happens, and it doesn’t help anyone. Those people would have done the same thing with any other source of authority, because they have issues, God has nothing to do with it. In the same way, emotionally stable people with faith use it in more of a constructive way, as a source for hope, and to more easily forgive people. God, like any idea, is a tool, so it depends on the individual how it’s used.

  • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

    This one is easy to settle.

    Those other guys are wrong.

    And that, is the end of that.

    • Tuna Ghost

      Well GREAT all that work for NOTHING

      • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

        All joking aside, this is an important direction to look in. Thank you for your efforts.

        When one or both sides of an issue are unwilling to reconsider postulates, progress is nigh impossible to make.

  • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

    This one is easy to settle.

    Those other guys are wrong.

    And that, is the end of that.

  • faithisbeliefwithoutevidence

    Disappointed that this site has so many theists/irrationalists/ fluffy new-agers.

    • http://www.facebook.com/elpolloloco52 Josh Adkisson

      Disappointed that this site has so many people whose usernames are ideological statements.

      • Sangproductions183

        Hahahaha, that was good.

    • Tuna Ghost

      Where are you seeing the irrational?  More importantly, where are you seeing new-age garbage? 

  • faithisbeliefwithoutevidence

    Disappointed that this site has so many theists/irrationalists/ fluffy new-agers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/elpolloloco52 Josh Adkisson

    Disappointed that this site has so many people whose usernames are ideological statements.

  • anti-crowley

    We have recently (as a race) discovered that the universal constant is not constant, a particle that possibly travels faster than the speed of light and that dark matter cannot exist.  The arrogance of thinking we know a fraction of anything is a mistake that scientists have made as long as there have been scientists.  Why we think that we have finally reached that stage where we cannot have a paradigm changing discovery in fundamental science is beyond me.  We are intellectually arrogant with information and always have been, with both religion and science.  When we use the term “have an open mind” what we really mean is “stop believing what you believe and believe as I do.”  It is in our nature.  When someone touches on a fundamental belief and tells us that it is wrong, we react in self defense.  It is cognitive dissonance.  Lets just get on with the mud slinging and realize that we cannot change it.  Plus it is entertaining and informative to hear the raw beliefs of those who hold nothing back on the world of internet anonymity.  Those who have decided that they have the answer and will not change, will not change regardless of the proofs provided.  That being said…if the God of the Bible is real we can expect that there will be a major attack on Israel in the next year, Israel will come out on top and rebuild their temple in East Jerusalem.   If this happens then you have your proof in the Christian and Jewish God being real.  If Russia, Iran and their supporters win, then the God of Islam is real.  Any other result and “other” is real.  Either way, Crowley was still a drug addicted pedophile, that is a scientific fact.

  • anti-crowley

    I’ll just take Christopher Hitchen’s copy when he dies, which is soon.

  • anti-crowley

    Tuna Ghost’s proposal for intelligent debate is just as much a dead end as the mud slinging approach, which Tuna Ghost has participated in as much as anyone else.  But it is much more laborious and time consuming.  Same tired arguments will be used with the same rebuttals. 

  • anti-crowley

    Except Tuna Ghost accepting Jesus as personal Savior.  TG is not THAT open minded.  TG rebelled against the Christian upbringing  and cannot separate Christians who misuse their religion from God, who does not answer for them, but instead judges them as he does all human beings.

  • anti-crowley

    Like the belief in nothing producing everything and the existence of dark matter…correct Lucid?

  • anti-crowley

    Was this an automated spam posting for E-Prime?  You want me to practice something that the inventor didn’t practice?  I can get the same mild altering of my consciousness by watching Jersey Shore.  I propose you stop using all definite articles from your language…and if that doesn’t change your conscious state, remove all verbs.  What a comprehensive world view.

  • anti-crowley

    Are  you currently standing with watermelons on your feet?  Cute phrase, but when you try to convert it to plane English you realize that the answer to the religion debate has nothing to do with metal currency…nice try though.

  • Sangproductions183

    I’m absolutely no fan of religion, but Jesus-titty-fucking-Christ, you Atheists are a joyless, boring bunch of S.O.B.s

  • Sangproductions183

    I’m absolutely no fan of religion, but Jesus-titty-fucking-Christ, you Atheists are a joyless, boring bunch of S.O.B.s

  • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

    Yeah, and not just the watermelons. They’ve got me balancing this tack hammer on my head. What’s that about?

  • anti-crowley

    Crowley also engaged in sexual intercourse with underage male kids and regularly used narcotics.  While we are at it, what was Jeffery Dahmer’s definition of magic(k)?

  • Sangproductions183

    Hahahaha, that was good.

  • anti-crowley

    Probably has something to do with altering the Alpha, Beta and Delta brainwaves am I right?  It’s called altering your state of consciousness and we do it every day when we do things like sleep.  Some us it to communicate with the spirit world, which they assume are all malevolent in the New Age/Nuetics  system.  Christians call them demons.

  • Sangproductions183

    But what about people who have actually experienced the supernatural? Even when it was the last thing they believed in, with other witnesses around, and against all rational or possible explanations? Oh, they were probably on drugs… right? Because personal experiences can’t be entered as evidence until it happens to you.

    And in the entire universe, there are no such things as an alien species, because I haven’t experienced it.

  • anti-crowley

    I recently realized that humans came from first nothing spontaneously turning into something, then that something was struck by lightning and became life and then a few billion or if need be a zillion years later (which ever is required) is us.  Plus dark matter to make it all work nicely.  Somewhere in the middle we lived in the water.

  • Tuna Ghost

    HEY!  I’m trying to have a reasonable and polite discussion here, I’ll thank you not to mention Jersey Shore in this comment thead. 

    Awful, awful people.

  • Tuna Ghost

    Hmmm “supernatural” is a cop-out and a strawman.  According to the believers, what occurs is well within the boundaries of the nature our world. 

  • Anonymous

    So that you can have a balanced attack, of course!

  • Tuna Ghost

    I’ll admit I was raised in the faith, but I dispute that I am unable to separae Christians from Christianity or God.  Why do you think this is the case?

  • Tuna Ghost

    He was prescribed narcotics for his physical ailments, and i’m not about to judge him for having sex with a 16 or 17 year old male. Why on earth are you comparing him to Jeffrey Dahmer? 

  • Andrew

    What in the Bible specifies an attack in the next year?

  • Tuna Ghost

    What’s the problem with that?

    As I mentioned before, it’s self-defeating.  “A statement that cannot be verified as true or false is meaningless” is itself a statement that cannot be verified as true or false. 

     If he wanted us to believe that everything is in a certain way, he’d have no problem doing so.

    There are some pretty severe moral, epistimelogical, and metaphysical ramifications to accepting this that I am not at all sure you’d be willing to take on board.  Descartes discussed this very notion in the same work in which his famous “Cogito ergo sum” makes an appearance, I recommend you take a look.

    In the scenario of a universe where there is a God, every investigation on the nature of the universe will never be something absolutely certain….What value does “everything we know about how the universe functions” have in such a scenario?

    That’s true of a universe without a God too.  That knowledge, however fleeting, has nevertheless helped us grow and build amazing things.  Are you suggesting that because our understanding of the universe is constantly changing, there’s no reason to investigate it?  Or no reason to adjust our understanding of God in light of this knowledge?  Seems a bit like giving up a bit early, doesn’t it?

  • Tuna Ghost

    No, it was more about its role in human development and its movtivations and goals.  Not every artist alters their consciousness when they create, nor does every magician. 

  • Tuna Ghost

    Well GREAT all that work for NOTHING

  • Tuna Ghost

    Also: then why is it so popular?  Other irrational beliefs are not as accepted nor as popular, even ones with cultural value to them; why is religion different?

  • Tuna Ghost

    I think it is very sad that most people are not more interested—or at least accepting—of esotericism, magic(k), or metaphysics of some sort. 

    Some people simply are not at all interested in their relationship with the infinite, which I also find fascinating.

     The separation, by the way, happened first with the Christianisation of Europe.

    I can’t speak for pre-christian europe, but it happened in africa and the middle-east loooooooong before Christianity or Yahweh made their appearance. It happened when society became organized to a degree (not long after the switch from hunting to a more agrarian lifestyle) that spiritual beliefs and rituals became codified.

  • Tuna Ghost

    Where are you seeing the irrational?  More importantly, where are you seeing new-age garbage? 

  • Tuna Ghost

    >he hasn’t interacted with anythingHow could anyone possibly know that?

    How do I know this is what strong atheists think, or what justification do atheists use to defend this statement?  Regarding the former: because they tell me.  They’ll tell anyone, really.

    As for the latter, because there is no evidence of his acting on anything and a good amount of knowledge that shows that it is impossible anyway, if you consider God to be acting outside of observable natural forces. 

  • Honu

    I think you can argue that when an artist is in the throes of their art, they are in an altered state of consciousness.  Maybe not chemically induced in all cases but the act of creating is an altered state.

  • Tuna Ghost

    yes, you’ve told us that you consider it pointless.  Some of us would rather come to an informed opinion through investigation than land on one after giving up because it is hard or uncomfortable.  No one is making you stick around, buddy. 

  • J03

    This is an important topic that quickly degenerates into name-calling.  Atheists are evil bastards and theists are crazy idiots.  Neither of these is true (although at times it seems they both are).

    There is a more important question that if approached with dispassionate logic, seems to collapse both sides.

    As unlikely as it seems, recognizing the logical impossibility of free-will holds the key to squaring this circle.

    Atheist torch bearer Sam Harris makes a strong argument against free-will.  I would recommend that any atheist who thinks that they reject any and all superstitious mumbo-jumbo and yet somehow inexplicably still believe in their own free-will/free-agency take a few minutes to listen to Sam’s commentary on the subject.

    As for the so-called religious/spiritualist/hippies, not even the most powerful of super-beings could be free from its experience, capability and fundamental nature.  This means that even an omniscient omnipotent creator would be forced to perform actions that were in accordance with its experience, capability and fundamental nature.

    This leaves us with a god as Spinoza describes which in the interest of brevity I will summarize as, “god is everything and everything is god”.  Many claim this proves Spinoza was an atheist and many atheists will declare that this statement is meaningless and the idea that everything is god makes the idea of god moot.  This is of course not true.  

    The idea that god is speaking to you through every person you meet can be profoundly powerful and can only lead to having more respect for your fellow human beings.  And I think you’d agree that an increase in world-wide respect for our fellow human beings would be a great benefit to us all.

    • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

      Merh, I don’t want to get started on Free will, really I don’t. The evidence against free will from a scientific perspective narrows the definitions of a person, their intention, and their agency dramatically, to squish people into this simplified framework, where it can be okay to deny free will. I’m currently listening to Sam Harris’ argument, and there are many different directions that I can attack his arguments.

      The crux of his argument is free will does not exist because the experience of consciousness happens after certain brain activation. This breaks down when you take away the assumption that all agency is strictly a function of consciousness. In other words, an act that is willed does not require someone to consciously think “I am going to do this action” before doing it. Yes, these choices are made quickly, quicker than vocal consciousness, but that does not mean it is completely separate from one’s will.

      Alternatively, consciousness can be utilized to decide on a particular action in the future, which is probably its main purpose, to prepare one’s mind for an action. If unprepared, an environmentally determined automatic response(which is assumed for all cases when you do not believe in free will) will happen. I know your initial response to this idea is that consciousness is always preceded by automatic responses, so therefore even if you decide something beforehand, it was automatic. This is however just not true. Consciousness is a reflection. It is an internal monologue. The cue’s for your next conscious thought, are commonly the previous conscious thought, while the speedy instinctual thought is strictly reactive. Actually it could be seen that conscious experience is a manner in which a person can look into oneself and actually change these instinctual actions, further enacting their own agency. Will does not have to be temporally obvious.

      Now I just hope this doesn’t devolve into questions of probability, and random chance, because it just muddles the issues at hand.

      Denial of free will can be dangerous in a society in many subtle ways. Its one step closer to looking back and saying something was always bound to happen, rather than saying something just happened, and it could have been different. When you deny free will, you tend to get casualties of any will whatsoever. And without will, defiance, creativity, and many other definitively human things are lost as well.

      Edit: Additionally he spends a lot of time talking about morality, and taking evidence that certain things could erode someones mind(such as a virus or a cancer) as evidence that free will never existed in the first place but does not take into account that free will itself can be eroded by these sorts of conditions. He mixes a lot of truths and confusions, to support his arguments. The truths make the confusions seem more plausible.

      • J03

        What actions can a person take that are not in accordance with their experience, capability and fundamental nature?

        Will is integral to consciousness.  An exercise of pre-consciousness is not an act of will.  Without consciousness I cannot make a conscious willful decision.  A pre-conscious decision can not be a willful decision.  I can be creative and defiant without free-will because consciousness exists independently of some imagined freedom.  My experience, capability and fundamental nature lead me to consciously and willfully act defiantly and creatively.  My experience, capability and fundamental nature lead me to make conscious, willful decisions.

        If I took an action that was not shaped by my experience, capability and fundamental nature, it could not possibly qualify as a *conscious* decision.

        If you relegate free-will to pre-consciousness then people cannot “decide their fate”.  Their fate is decided before they are consciously aware of what is happening.

        namaste

        • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

          Your viewpoints seem to work out if you think the mind is just another item that can be analyzed through strict reductionism. You’ll never agree with me from that perspective, but you have to take the mind from a holistic viewpoint. In this sense no, consciousness is not independent from “imagined” freedom, no more than it is independent from pre-conscious decisions. There is no distinction between the preconscious and conscious. They are integral to each other, that’s why you very rarely will disagree with pre-consciousness because consciousness is just the echo chamber that you reflect on the actions you already decided on(faster than you can think in language).

          Of course your actions are shaped by your environment/experience etc. But that in no way qualifies that it is the ONLY thing that shapes your mind. Reflection lets you shape your own viewpoints, shuffle things around, decide somethings are more valuable, and less valuable to believe in. Everyone does this, and noone interacts with their own mind, and certain ideas in the same precise way.

          In any case, when people stop believing in free will, you’ll start hearing things like “its not my fault, my brain did it” to which I ask, where does the person stop, and the brain begin

          • emperorreagan

            Three relevant articles:
            It’s better to believe in free will:
            http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110323140233.htm
            Interesting thought experiment to illustrate determinism vs. free will and the lack of a middle ground:
            http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/35391/title/Math_Trek__Do_subatomic_particles_have_free_will%3F
            Fruit flies and free will:
            http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/278/1707/930

          • J03

            People often conflate determinism with predictability.

            Determinism does not require, for example, that a quantum state pre-exists its observation.

            Determinism simply describes cause and effect.  In fact, even if there was some magically non-influenced part of a person that was independent of their biology and experience that somehow exerted influence over the decision making process, it would simply be counted as another cause leading to the inevitable effect of that cause’s influence.

            The only way to prove that something “could have happened differently” would be to travel back in time.  

            Without any hard evidence, we are forced to conclude that any theory that we could have changed something in the past is merely the product of an over-active imagination.

          • emperorreagan

            I think they’re missing a little bit in the article.  Their thought experiment is better formulated as determinism versus indeterminism.  It’s a fair argument against compitabilism.   

            Determinism doesn’t require that we’re capable of predicting events.  It does, however, require that everything is governed by deterministic laws.  A true stochastic process is indeterministic.  That is why there is not empirical evidence for determinism – there are processes that can be described well as either a chaotic system governed by deterministic laws, or as a semi-Markov process.  An argument either way between determinism versus indeterminism is still a philosophical argument and one that is actively debated both in philosophical circles as well as scientific circles (with many physicists of the last century weighing in one way or the other).

            Personally, I accept indeterminism over the likelihood of scientists finding more hidden variables and/or new laws ad infinitum.  

            And if you reject hard determinism, then compatibilism become irrelevant as an argument when considering free will.

          • J03

            Ok, good point.  However indeterminism is even less compatible with free-will than determinism.

            If your actions are not causally linked to their (possibly random) consequences how can you be held morally responsible?

            Indeterminism simply injects some randomness into an otherwise straightforward cause and effect system.

            Since randomness is incompatible with conscious willful decision making, it has no bearing on the validity of free-will.

          • emperorreagan

            Hard indeterminism also rejects free will.  Most of the arguments I find interesting about free will are made from a view of adequate determinism.  

            There are a variety of arguments that are made about free will from a perspective that rejects hard determinism.  Here are a couple:
            Robert Nozick, for example, argued that free will arises in our ability to weight different reasons for acting in different ways.  The reasons may be casually determined, but the weights we assign to each reason in weighing them against each other are not previously casually determined.  Basically weighting the options in the mind is an indeterministic event and breaks the strictly deterministic line of action.  There’s more to the argument than that, but I don’t have the book anymore.

            Peter Boyle makes the following argument:
            Freedom and determination occur in temporal sequence.  

            The free part occurs in considering alternative possibilities – which are generated unpredictably in the neural noise of our brains.  The will part provides deliberation and determination, actually directing the action.  So the present cloud of random alternatives leads to a choice.  All of those possible futures then become a single, unalterable past.  Ultimately, he is separating “free” from “will.”  The will is casually determined, but the freedom is the mind.

            There are a lot of other arguments from similar perspectives about where in the sequence of events indeterministic phenomena allow a break from strict deterministic paths.

            I personally don’t have a strong opinion either way.  I think free will is one of those frustrating ideas that’s occasionally interesting to think about.  It’s not something I’m conscious of in my daily life. 

              

          • J03

            The act of “weighting the options in the mind” is a deliberate act that relies on our accumulated experiences.  This deliberate willful act therefore can not be “free from influence”.
            If freedom only exists abstractly and separately from our will, I’m at a loss as to how that makes the will in any way free.  And furthermore, I’m not sure that even imagination is free, seeing as how it has obvious limitations.

            There are massive implications to consider if the concept of free-will is ejected from our cultural thinking.  This is why I take these discussions so seriously.

            namaste

          • emperorreagan

            I didn’t do a particularly good job of explaining Robert Nozick’s ideas.  There’s more to it than what I described.

            As to the idea of Boyle, which I consider more agreeable:
            The argument is that in part of your mind, you’re free to come up with alternative possibilities.
            These possibilities are deliberated and evaluated, then filtered through the collection of motives, reasons, etc. which leads to a determination of action.  

            And of course, the will itself is subject to being changed after deliberation and filtering of an idea.  Some philosophies would argue that this internal freedom to weigh ideas and formulate/change the set of motives and ideals that drive your will is the most important.

            I would grant this much, at least: unconstrained, absolute free will does not exist.  Every person does not have access to every idea or the ability to pursue every course of action.  The imagination is bounded.  Our ability to perceive things is bounded.  Everything in life is bounded or constrained.  I don’t see recognition of constraints as necessarily indicating free will does not exist.

            To use a physical analogy: think of a 3 dimensional rigid object floating in space.  The object has 6 degrees of freedom.  It can rotate or translate along three orthogonal axes.  If you constrain it to motion in a 2-dimensional plan, it still has 3 degrees of freedom.

            If you design a more complex system with many more multiple degrees of freedom, it won’t function satisfactorily if you either over constrain or under constrain it.

            The only way free will will be ejected from our cultural thinking is if someone provides empirical evidence that it does not exist – and belief in free will may persist even then, as the useful illusion some people already consider it.

          • J03

            I guess it’s that last part that I’m so puzzled by.

            Why do (many) atheists, who demand proof positive of god’s existence, persist in clinging to a notion of free-will without demanding proof positive of its existence?

            No part of a willful decision can be free from influence, and randomness is antithetical to the concept of choice.

            All things are some combination of either caused or random precedents.  There is no escape.

            Ipso-facto, no free will.

            namaste

          • emperorreagan

            If you toe the line that you will only believe things following positive empirical proof, as well as accepting the other philosophical tenets of strong atheism, then you are certainly correct, the idea of free will should be rejected. Arguments about free will are by their nature speculative, dealing with systems theory, emergence, irreducibility, and countless other open-ended topics alongside the philosophical discussions.

            After writing a different response to someone else and considering it some more, I’ve come to the following conclusion: expecting an atheist to be aware of and accept all of the philosophical underpinnings of their position is probably about as reasonable as when I used to expect religious people to be aware of and accept the full doctrine and practice of their churches.  Many people may only toe the line on a handful of issues.  Perhaps an atheist toes the proof-positive line on the existence of a deity, but strays elsewhere.  Likewise, a common position I found among people in my parents’ church is that they toe the church’s line on abortion, but still think the death penalty is a good idea.  

            Like everyone else, the atheist is going to create their own framework from many sources.

            I also think that you also need to consider why a person identifies as an atheist.  How and why did they come to that position?  Are they a strong atheist, a weak atheist, or really just agnostic?

          • J03

            Good points.  We seem to be in general agreement.

            namaste

          • J03

            Your viewpoints seem to work out if you think the mind is just another item that contains a magical property that cannot be measured or explained in a logically consistent manner.

            Consciousness is independent from imagined freedom.  There is nothing in the definition of consciousness that requires anything resembling free-will.

            “the state of being conscious;  awareness of one’s own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings, etc.” – dictionary.com

            We agree that consciousness and pre-consciousness are inseparable.  But we quite often do seem to disagree with our pre-conscious mind and struggle to do things to which there is no obvious impediment, like when someone consciously wants to lose weight but can’t or when someone consciously wants to quit smoking but can’t.

            Of course your actions are shaped by your environment/experience etc.  And if you disagree and propose that something other than ignorance or random chance fills the influence-gap between the known influencing factors and the actual decision or action, I would simply ask you to define that mechanism in logically explicit terms.

            Reflection influences your viewpoints, but you seem to forget that your ability to reflect and the conclusions you draw from reflection are simply a feedback loop that only contains the product of your biology (your mental hardware) and experience (information).  There is nothing magical about self-reflection.

            The argument that morality requires belief in free-will is repugnant and closely parallels the religious argument that says morality requires religion.

            There is no reason to assign blame (to a so-called actor or free-agent) in order to recognize behavioral problems.  You do not blame a rabid dog for its actions but this in no way impedes your solution to the obvious potential problems if cujo is left unchecked.  In fact, without free-will it behooves us to view problems (with individuals) as symptoms of systemic malfunction which leads us to more robust solutions than the pointless punitive aggravation of an individual.  For instance if a machine malfunctions, you do not publicly flog the bolt or wire that was at the point of failure, instead you bypass or replace (or repair?) the part and in the future when appropriate, engineer a more reliable system.

          • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

            The fact that you assume we can explain how the brain works down to the dirty details in a logically consistent manner is very ignorant of you. Asking me to define these mechanisms in logically explicit terms is a trap I will not fall into because any attempt to explain them will be wrong with our current knowledge (yes even any explanation you try to give). I’m not saying we won’t know at some point, but I know right now we do not understand it nearly as much as you would like people to believe.

            “We agree that consciousness and pre-consciousness are inseparable.  But we quite often do seem to disagree with our pre-conscious mind.”You really contradict yourself and simultaneously bring up the point I was trying to make. The two are inseperable, but upon reflection in conscious thought, you begin to disagree with the automatic response. The reason will is important here, is because you can freely will (assuming you believe in it, and yours is strong enough) to change your automatic responses in the future if you so desire. You bring up the perfect example here. If you were right, it would be impossible to ever quit smoking. But people DO quit smoking. They automatically smoke, they consciously decide they do not want to anymore and, if they have a strong enough will, they will in fact quit smoking. If i wanted to give a definition to free will here, I’d say it was to the extent that a person could choose to modify their actions according to their conscious processing, but I really don’t think that does it justice

            I know you will always respond with the feedback loop response. Unfortunately you are using a logical form of confirmation bias. You say “free will doesnt exist, and all mental processing is deterministic”. so when I say free will requires a mental process you respond with “oh, no! I already said all mental processing is deterministic”

            Listen, I understand what you are trying to say, but you are looking at all this from a less-than useful perspective. you are looking at every action seconds after they happen rather than seconds before. Free will of an action of course is meaningless in the grand picture when you’re always looking backwards rather than forwards. Free will is an adaptation to the inherent uncertainty of the future. Not everyone thinks in perfect logic, or even prioritizes logic. This changes what they will. Not everyone prioritizes free will, or even believes in it, this also changes what they will. You assume that the brain is a logic machine, and everyone falls in line to the logical perspective, otherwise they are being emotional, ignorant, or their brain is just being random. You fail to understand that its really a mix of all these things.

          • J03

            Let me first say that I appreciate your engagement in this conversation even though you expressed hesitancy at the outset.  You are making some excellent points that I will attempt to address to the best of my ability.

            I am not asking you to perform the (currently) impossible task of mapping every function of the human brain. I would simply like some description of free-will, even a dictionary definition that makes some kind of sense. Parsimony would seem to dictate some explanation of why anyone should resort to injecting free-will into a perfectly functioning deterministic theory of human behavior.  

            Free-will, from what I’ve been able to gather over the years is the ability to make a willful decision that itself is free from previous events and by implication this includes biology and furthermore extends to all metaphysical and theoretical influences.

            The very obvious problem is that even if something could exist, even in theory, that was completely free from previous influences of all kinds, that thing, whatever it might be, could not possibly be considered a decision maker.  Quite clearly because a decision is something we make based on our thoughts and feelings and maybe a little randomness.  Thoughts and feelings are wholly products of previous influence and therefore cannot be considered free-will (which is free from influence).  Randomness is by definition outside of our consciousness and outside our control and therefore cannot be considered something that we as individuals can take credit or blame for.

            As for the division of consciousness, you seem to be forgetting that your conscious decision to stop smoking is an influenced decision.  You are informed that is bad for your health, the cost may become prohibitive, you may know people who have urged you to stop.  These are all deterministic factors leading to your effort to stop.  Human minds are not unified.  Part of us hates to work but loves the money.  Part of us loves to get drunk but hates the hang-over.  Part of us loves to spend money but hates being broke.  Deterministic factors pile up on all sides pulling us in many different directions until the force of one temporarily breaks the others loose and we take that action instead of some other action.  The strongest chain at any particular juncture forces our hand.

            When you say that free-will requires a mental process I have to ask how a mental process can be free from influence.  And I would counter that a mental process does not in any way require free-will.

            Looking into an uncertain future we draw on our experiences and instincts and emotions.  Relying on a non-influenced influence to explain willful action is tantamount to saying “god told me to do it”.

            The overwhelming majority of scientifically observable phenomena are subject to cause and effect.  This includes emotion and so-called irrational behavior.  The only exception as far as we currently can tell is quantum randomness, which may or may not be fundamentally random, but regardless of that verdict, true randomness is fundamentally at odds with the concept of a willful decision.

            namaste

          • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

            Ok I think I may see the confusion here. Let me define free will in a deterministic sense (because at a certain level you can take determinism as being true). I never wanted to claim that free will does not take into account experience or any other conditions. I am partial to free will being an emergent phenomena, but one that emerges uniquely in all of us. In a sense because of what could be called random chance or alternatively, just merely existence, where we are each bombarded with unique experiences, becoming unique human beings. Now, still within a deterministic framework, we each have a unique perspective. Free will does not have to be a magical force or spiritual phenomena, but in essence, we have what is “effective” free will. We each have particular desires goals and such, even if it is shaped by our deterministic reality. However, because we cannot in fact see the future, nor can we be omniscient, uncertainty is a core part of the human condition.

            Because of this, even if free will doesn’t exist, treating it like it does is a more effective way of dealing with the uncertainty. In the hypothetical automatic mind, if you believe in free will, you are more likely to automatically tip the scales towards what you personally believe in (no matter how you arrived at that point). Believing in free will also makes it more likely to do something that isn’t expected, and may even be creative. It’s a bit of a strange situation where the more it is believed, the more it is true, because if it isn’t globally believed it will be discouraged. I’ll stop with this point though, because it can get weird if I take it any further.

            I’m thinking of free will as an emergent process just like say, a newly broken off species has emerged in nature. yes, deterministic rules got them both there, but they do not follow anything but themselves (hence being free). I guess i’m going to be repeating myself, but I am arguing that the free will, and acts that are done are synonymous. When I say “I will this” yes, all of the experiences and thoughts and brain processes are the things that caused this to happen. But the claim I am making is that I AM those experiences thoughts and brain processes. These factors are inseparable from me, and I am inseparable from them. 

            I really need to read the paper given a few replies up about determinism and free will being compatible, because it seems to mesh rather well with my viewpoint.

          • J03

            The compatibilists view uses a virtual free-will that is projected on top of an unapologetically deterministic framework.

            This virtual free-will is watered down from the standard definition and is no longer free from influence, but is rather simply free from obvious coercion.  

            I am probably totally off base here, but it sounds like we are not in disagreement about the existence of free-will as defined by a freedom from influence, but rather you are advocating the idea that a belief in this thing that you tacitly acknowledge doesn’t truly exist, is somehow beneficial to individuals and by implication greater society and that this perceived benefit justifies believing in something that cannot exist.

            The argument that a belief in something that doesn’t exist yields benefits that outweigh the cost of our intellectual integrity sounds a lot like what someone might say if they believed that fear of god increases moral behavior.

            And furthermore to that point, I do not believe that belief in free-will increases human happiness.  Belief in free-will simply increases feelings of guilt and regret and blame and hate and revenge.  Eliminate or reduce these five things and you have a much better world.

            I think it is very difficult for someone clinging to free-will to clearly see the implications of a purely deterministic world view.

            Common objections include “what’s the point of living if everything’s determined?”

            I would say that it is similar to watching a movie or tv show or reading a novel.  Just because you know the ending is pre-determined, doesn’t make it any less interesting and compelling.

            Another objections is something like “how do I function without making free decisions in my daily life?”

            I have been living without the superstition of free-will quite nicely for about nine years now.  Not much has changed really, I just make the most informed decisions that I can based on my cumulative experiences.  The main upside I’ve noticed is that I no longer blame individuals for their actions.  I know that they are doing the best that they can with the hand they’ve been dealt.  I don’t need to take anything personally since anyone intending insult or injury to me is simply acting in the only way they know how.  This makes it easier for me to forgive and look at situations without being clouded by negative feelings.  Taking an insult from someone without free-will is like taking an insult from a two year old child.  You just feel sorry for them and try to understand why they feel that way instead of getting angry.

          • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

            I must apologize for being mildly confusing in my last reply (even though I was attempting to dispel it). I was speaking in a framework assuming pure determinism to be effectively true. In this I left the impression that I don’t believe free will exists. No, much like supervexi was saying, I do not (and noone in their right mind should) believe in free will in the sense that you are arguing against.

            You seem to be linking free will and morality a little more than you should. I could make as strong an argument against morality (albeit with some holes) as you are making against free will, albeit i still believe in both. As i established there is no reason to believe that someones will exists in a vacuum with no influence. In a morale sense it is difficult to blame someone for their will. This is until you actually insert a little reality into the picture. Deviant behavior does in fact exist. And whether free will does or doesn’t exist, and whether blame should or shouldn’t exist, the effects of deviance exists. We have to do something about it, and I think you would probably agree with me that rehabilitation would probably be the most effective way rather than incarceration.

            I find it funny that you continually call free will a superstition, and I think I’m starting to see why you are so threatened by it. I suppose the crux of my argument is this: even if we live in a deterministic reality, the human condition is fundamentally non deterministic, as limited by our perception. Without  the unpredictability of free will (even in my sense) you can deny this.

            “And furthermore to that point, I do not believe that belief in free-will increases human happiness.  Belief in free-will simply increases feelings of guilt and regret and blame and hate and revenge.  Eliminate or reduce these five things and you have a much better world”

            This comment I also found a little humorous. I never said, that free will increases human happiness, I said it was important. A brain implant that stimulated a pleasure center in the brain would increase happiness, but I would definitely say it isn’t important to humanity. Hell i’ll even say this: guilt, regret, blame, hate, revenge, sure they don’t increase human happiness(not how you would think at least) but I would say that each of them are important as well. Try to imagine a world without any of them. These things are all part of the human condition. Personally I like being human, the complexity is intriguing, and not to be afraid of. I wouldn’t want to live in a world where everyone was just a happy robot.

            “If you’re only hope is simply peace and love
            You end up discarding most of what you’re made of.”
            -bad religion, All Fantastic Images

          • J03

            If you don’t define free-will as free from outside influence, how do you define it?  What is the will free from?

            The only point of free-will is to justify individual morality.  Without free-will, individuals cannot be held ultimately responsible for their actions since they have no ultimate control of their actions.  Without ultimate control of one’s actions, the moral implications of those actions cannot rest with the individual.

            If you insert a little reality into the picture you might notice that animals don’t tolerate deviant behavior within a group and we see no need to project anything like free-will or even a concept of morality on them.

            A rabid dog exhibits deviant behavior and we have no problem dealing with cujo without the aid of concepts like morality or free-will.Rehabilitation is ideal, but when this is ineffective or unrealistic, incarceration is a natural alternative.  My point is that this incarceration does not need to be punitive but instead simply practical.

            I find it funny that atheists call religion superstition, and I think I’m starting to see why they are so threatened by it.

            I never meant to imply that determinism equals predictability.  Since every interaction and every element of reality is fundamentally unique, it makes perfect sense that the outcomes of these unique interactions would also be unique and as such ultimately (even if only in some minute way) unpredictable.

            Unpredictability exists independently from the concept of free-will.  In fact, free-will decisions are conceptually supposed to have a normative effect on outcomes being the the will is supposed to have a cohesive identity (moral character/code of ethics) on which its decisions are made.  This would seem to make free-will decisions more predictable instead of less predictable.  For instance if someone were to act “out of character” you might assume they were sick or drunk or otherwise being unduly influenced or coerced and not acting in their “right mind”.

            I find it a little humorous that someone would count themselves a proponent of guilt and regret and blame and hate and revenge.  I have imagined a world without them and it looks like clear thinking people addressing systemic problems in a humane and practical way.  People’s lives can be utterly destroyed by these things and for no good reason other than the false idea that they perhaps “could have acted otherwise”.  When you entertain the notion that they couldn’t possibly have acted otherwise, these destructive impulses appear at least pathological if not overtly psychotic.

            Maybe you’d be more comfortable being a happy elephant?

            There seem to be a lot of unhappy robots running amok these days.

            I tend to diverge philosophically from most rock bands.  I would simply say that like animals, we will likely always be subject to problems of some sort, but guilt and regret and blame and hate and revenge do not need to be counted among them and furthermore do not define all of humanity fundamentally.

            namaste

          • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

            I’m tired of trying to do long winded well-thought out responses, you seem to miss my points, so i’m just going to start getting dismissive

            “If you don’t define free-will as free from outside influence, how do you define it?  What is the will free from?”Your problem is you think freedom has to be free “from” something as opposed to freedom “to do” something. just because there are things we are not free “from” does not mean we are not free “to do” things.

            “If you insert a little reality into the picture you might notice that animals don’t tolerate deviant behavior within a group and we see no need to project anything like free-will or even a concept of morality on them.”
            Are you arguing against morality here too? If denying free will led you to this, then you’re only supporting my case.

            “Unpredictability exists independently from the concept of free-will.  In fact, free-will decisions are conceptually supposed to have a normative effect on outcomes being the the will is supposed to have a cohesive identity (moral character/code of ethics) on which its decisions are made.  This would seem to make free-will decisions more predictable instead of less predictable.  For instance if someone were to act “out of character” you might assume they were sick or drunk or otherwise being unduly influenced or coerced and not acting in their “right mind”.”
            no

            “I find it a little humorous that someone would count themselves a proponent of guilt and regret and blame and hate and revenge.  I have imagined a world without them and it looks like clear thinking people addressing systemic problems in a humane and practical way.  People’s lives can be utterly destroyed by these things and for no good reason other than the false idea that they perhaps “could have acted otherwise”.  When you entertain the notion that they couldn’t possibly have acted otherwise, these destructive impulses appear at least pathological if not overtly psychotic.”
            You’re wrong, they exist for a reason; just because these things can be misplaced(and quite easily) does not mean they should be destroyed outright. Humans can be misguided, why not just kill em all because a majority of them are. Just because some aspects of the human condition are not clean, sterile, and predictable doesnt make them useless

            “There seem to be a lot of unhappy robots running amok these days.”When you are convinced that you are a robot, I’d imagine it would make you a bit depressed.”I tend to diverge philosophically from most rock bands.”It was a pertinent quote and I don’t like claiming ideas that don’t come directly from me. I will say there are a lot more thinkers out there than in the scientific realm, you should try branching out. You probably had a similar gut reaction to atheists that read anything that has a bible reference afterwards. “harumph! he doesnt have a phd!”  (actually.. wait… no if you really wanna know, the quote came from someone who DOES have a PhD.. but then you say “harumph! it wasnt in hard science! then i say, oh wait… theres no such thing as hard science in studying consciousness… then we argue some more)We won’t reach a real consensus until you understand the scaled effects of actually applying a belief to everyone as opposed to a hypothetical logical realm that you’ve created.(well it was still long winded, but i kept it from being well thought out this time)

          • J03

            I have made a point to express my appreciation for your time and effort.  Please do not feel that you are in any way obligated to continue this discussion if it is causing you even the slightest anxiety. 

            Ok, so your idea of free-will describes a deterministic chain of events (with a pinch of randomness) that we imagine may have more than one possible outcome.  And even though we never actually see any of these imagined outcomes materialize there’s really no reason to doubt their validity.  Kinda like how we can imagine unicorns and dragons and nobody doubts their validity.

            So at this point we really agree on everything except the validity of the term “free-will”.  And as far as I can tell you define “free-will” as “a conscious willful decision”.  I’ve heard free-will described as the mechanism that allows us to make “a conscious and willful decision” but I’ve never heard it defined as the decision itself.  I hope you can forgive me for not expecting you to have a unique definition of the term, but I’m glad we finally cleared that up.

            The crux of your argument seems to be that the concept of free-will makes us better people.  And I would point out that this is the same reasoning that people use to justify an otherwise indefensible belief in god.

            Free-will and morality are interdependent concepts.  If this is your case, I love supporting it.

            Unpredictability is associated with either ignorance or randomness.  Free-will claims to be neither of these.  So your claim that free-will instills unpredictability into our lives seems unjustified.

            I’m not advocating predictability.  I’m advocating either logical justification for free-will or dismissing it as superstition.

            Eliminating false concepts from my world-view is the opposite of depressing.

            I’ve never asked anyone for credentials, especially you.  I’m not sure what you’re on about with that last tangent.

            namaste

          • supervexi

            JO3, you and Chaorder have got quite a good discussion on free will going on here.  I’d like to jump in just a bit, as it appears (from the outside) that the two of you are using the same words differently, and as such, talking across each other.

            First of all, I think it is important to consider the idea that determinism and free will are not necessarily mutually exclusive.  As you rightly pointed out, JO3, determinism talks about cause and effect, not predetermined outcome.  And while I cannot speak for Chaorder, I do not think that any serious thinker would suggest that the idea of free will attempts to sever cause from effect.

            For example: As I am walking down the street, someone suddenly pushes me out of the way, calls me a dirty name, and flips me the bird.  Cause. 
               Now at this point I have a range of possible options, more than I even realize, and more than I will consciously consider.  But say I come down on either punching him in the face (let’s say it is my conditioned response) or just ignoring it (I am walking with my girlfriend and she hates violence and I am trying to impress her, trying to fight my conditioned, or automatic response). Options.
               Considering the options, until I have acted, I actually have the ability to choose either outcome.  Free will.

            Of course once I have acted, we can analyze and see all the myriad reasons why, and you get your determinism.  Obviously no one acts in a vacuum, separate from their past, their biology, their worldview, their surroundings, etc.  It is not possible.  But then, I don’t think that free will is trying to say that they do.  Rather, it says that until the moment of choice, they have a choice.

            I’ve often wondered if we were able to hit rewind on time, and then play, what would happen?  Would, like a movie, everything happen exactly the same?  Or would it be more like a lava lamp, and would it all play out differently?  Over the years I have come down on different answers.  Sometimes I take the movie answer and use it to say that the idea of free will is meaningless.  Yes you have a choice, but if you rewind/play a million times and you always make the same choice, it wouldn’t appear to be much of a choice at all would it?  Other times I take the lava lamp approach, and realizing that quantum mechanics deals in probabilities, it seems almost impossible that not one wave function would collapse into a different result.  Even in a strictly deterministic view, the first little change in the rewind/play would ripple out, changing the environment and peoples choices, which further changes the environment, etc. out in ever magnifying circles.

            As a side note, I recall an article in the Scientific American, perhaps two years ago, that dealt with the recursive feedback loops involved in decision making.  The thrust of the article was that the recursive nature meant it was impossible to accurately predict beforehand, the outcome of a thought process.  Essentially anti-PREdeterministic, which is not necessarily to say anti-deterministic.

            Well, I hope this was a valuable contribution to the debate.

          • J03

            I appreciate your interjection but it sounds like what you are calling free-will is indistinguishable from what I would call a conscious willful decision.

            Free-will is not needed for someone to make a conscious willful decision.

            To further drive home this fact, I would like to point out that even if you were able to rewind time and replay the event and some quantum random element caused the event to play out differently even if only in some very minor way, this injection of randomness would in no way be compatible with the idea of free-will.  Because randomness is outside of our control and therefore outside the scope of your personal responsibility.

            The major problem with the standard definition of free-will is that it is supposed to account for your decision making ability and at the same time it is supposed to be free from previous influences.  A decision is something we make based on information.  To say that our fundamental identity (our free-will) is somehow free from influence (free from information) and that fundamental identity informs our decision making is ludicrous.  

            How can something that contains no information at the same time inform our decisions?

            namaste

          • supervexi

            Clearly, it can’t. 

            The issue at stake here, really, seems to be the definition of free will.  If, as you say, the standard definition truly is that we can make decisions free of influence from any past event, then I would say that the standard person who made this standard claim is an idiot.  From my perspective, this is just another case of the common understanding of an issue or idea turning out to be no understanding at all.  And really, that this is a wrong definition.  Free will (again, I speak only for myself from my own understanding) rather speaks to the idea that I have a real and meaningful possibility to make a conscious willful decision – to use your own phrase.  And not only that, but that I could, should I desire to, make a different conscious willful decision.

            Now, I can certainly understand some frustration in that proving this wrong would require going back in time.  And even if it were true, it might not really mean anything anyways.  But I think to some extent you are overstating the case of what free will claims.  Now if you run into folk who get all heated over your deterministic stance, I would be willing to wager that they are confusing what you claim with PREdeterminism, and they would (if I follow you correctly) be overstating your case.

            Just a quick note on the quantum process affecting outcome.  You say that randomness is outside our control, and therefore outside our responsibility.  Quantum processes at work in my brain are no more uncontrollable than the chemical or electrical processes are.fundamentally, do we (the conscious being) have any control over even ourselves?

            Echoing my previous post, I do not believe determinism and free will to be inherently at odds, polar opposites, or mutually exclusive.  Your description of determinism sounds awfully like me description of free will.  Perhaps it is worth considering the issue in the light of the field that spawned it: theology.  Originally, (at least in the Judeo-Christian line of historical thought) the concept was used to show that humans were given the latitude to disobey the commands of god, which other beings were not given.  Considering that, I would say that it is certainly possible to constrain someone’s free will.  Afterall, if I have you straitjacketed and gagged, you can want whatever you want, but your range of possible actions is very limited.

            Thanks for the stimulating discussion

          • J03

            The compatibilists view (to which you may subscribe) uses a virtual free-will that is projected on top of an unapologetically deterministic framework.

            This virtual free-will is watered down from the standard definition and is no longer free from influence, but is rather simply free from obvious coercion.  This makes it illusory as far as science is concerned and parsimony dictates that we dispose of the term entirely since free-from-obvious-coercion does not translate into the freedom from outside influence that is required to support the idea of personal moral responsibility.
            We have some apparent ability for self-modification, however our desire and ability to self-modify does not originate within our minds but is instead dictated by a combination of our experiences and our biology.  You can add or subtract any number of metaphysical factors if you please, however you cannot ever make a claim that some uninfluenced (devoid of information) mechanism informs our decision making ability.

            I like your point that free-will has historically been used to excuse god from the problem of evil.  This is why I find it so bizarre that so many people who call themselves atheists cling so strongly to this highly problematic and pointless canard.

            namaste

          • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

            “Free-will is not needed for someone to make a conscious willful decision.”

            You are not arguing against free will. Free will IS a conscious willful decision:

            Clearly you agree that will exist.Your issue is with the freedom of consciousness. Freedom of consciousness does not mean its extracting information from some superstitious/spiritual/ voidlike/ethereal or any other term you can think of like you keep trying to define it as… it is NOT the complete freedom from all experience, noone said that but you. It is the freedom to make a decision among different choices each of which have been arrived at through previous experiences(or thought).

            Okay lets say this. Only for sake of argument, lets say consciousness has something called “limited freedom”. It is limited because it can ONLY choose among the thoughts it has previously encountered through previous experiences or thoughts(necessary for creativity). This is opposed to “unlimited freedom” where it is free to choose among any possibility among anything that could possibly exist or be conceptualized. Of course the latter is nonsense, but this is in fact what you are arguing against when you define free will. I have always been using free in the “limited freedom” form, because the other form, which you are using as a strawman, is obvious nonsense.

            So, as supervexi stated, it is a problem of misconstrued definitions.

          • J03

            Ok, I think we’re making some headway here.

            Look, if any part of your will is non-causal/non-determined/free-from-pre-existing-influence then that part, no matter how small, is generating something from nothing.

            I think we agree that your will is 99.99 percent informed/influenced by experience and biology.  The remainder is informed by unknown factors.  You seem to think that this influence-gap allows for some measure of freedom from influence but it does not.  We know with 100% certainty that the unknown factors that fill this gap are either causal factors we can’t currently measure, or randomness.

            Since randomness (by its very definition) is outside our ability to control, it does not provide any basis for free-will.  We cannot be held personally responsible for random acts.

            Obviously nobody can make a 100% free decision, otherwise we’d all be kings of our own realities.

            I am simply saying that no part of our will is free from influence.  The only alternative is randomness which also negates freedom of will.  Because randomness is antithetical to willful choice.

            If you like the term “free-will” and its associative concept of personal responsibility, you have to provide some plausible theory in which the will is in any part, however minuscule, free from both randomness and outside influences.  If you don’t do this, then we must agree that all willful decisions ultimately arise from factors that we have no control over, i.e. our biology, our formative experience and randomness. 

            I do very much appreciate your time and engagement in this discussion.

            namaste

          • supervexi

            JO3, allow me to respond to this post and also your more recent one in reply to Chaorder.

            It seems to me that at this point we have, at least between the three of us, settled on common definitions of what we mean by both free will and determinism.  And common understanding of terms is crucial to any debate so that people may talk about the same things without talking about different things.

            It seems to me that now, settled on common definitions, the crux of the issue is whether or not free will (as free from coercion and free to engage in various future actions) necessitates personal (moral) responsibility for those actions.  It seems that both Chaorder and myself take a compatabilist view along the lines of Hobbes.  And it seems to me that you can agree with our definition of free will but that you take a view similar to that of Schopenhauer, that you can will to do whatever you want, but that you can ONLY will to do whatever you want (and going back to the play/rewind analogy, you would always [and could only] will the same thing every time).  How then can we assign personal moral responsibility for actions taken?

            This is a deep and meaningful question.  The answer informs our decision as a society as how to deal with deviancy.  Do we incarcerate, rehabilitate, eliminate, or other?  This also leads into another, related, question that I have often pondered.  What is the proper function of our judicial/penal system?  It is clear that no single answer has been reached by the schizophrenic rulings and penalties handed down for various offenses.  Wherever one comes down on these two related issues, one cannot deny that whatever crime or deviancy may have been committed, it was committed by an individual.  Whatever external (and internal) deterministic events may have contributed to the act, it was the individual who acted.  The individual cannot be absolved of responsibility.  Perhaps, at some level, this responsibility can be shifted to the externalities however, it was still the individual that acted.  Even a malfunctioning clockwork object bears the consequences of its misactions by being fixed of destroyed.  So even a purely deterministic, anti-free-will point of view cannot say that deviancy should be ignored.

            I suppose at the end, it is something of a semantic or at least purely ideological debate.  We all can agree that deviancy cannot be tolerated.  It must be dealt with one way or another.  But how we deal with it, and where we assign ultimate blame are based upon ones position on this issue.  I haven’t a final answer to this question.  But as I come from the world view that accepts an all-powerful deity which empowered (at at least did not actively constrain our range of actions) us with the ability to choose different courses of action, I tend to imagine that there is some reality to the notion of free will, and that I actually can choose to either do something, or not do it.

            I would gather, JO3, based on your views, that you come from a position that does not accept the notion of an all-powerful deity that created us and gave us agency.  This (if a correct assessment) leads naturally to the idea that agency is a meaningless idea and that we are clockwork machines (however complex and complicated) that necessarily do only what we possibly can do in any given situation.

            I am not sure why Chaorder has wearied of this discussion, but I am glad for it.  Such civil and intellectual debate forces us to examine the hidden assumptions presuppositions that are the foundations for our worldviews and even if we don’t change position, it at least causes us to have a more elucidated and educated reason for having them.

          • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

            I guess I’ll just say I’ve gotten weary because there are many (possibly countless) issues that are arising from the conversation with him stemming from his hyper-logical viewpoint. Maybe I’m taking it mildly personally because I used to think in that manner, until I eventually realized the paradoxical irrationality of being the perfect embodiment of rationality that J03 wishes to be.

            Its just been frustrating because I say less than half of what I think is needed to say for sake of brevity, but it just leads to more confusions when I just want to distill the conversation to the base of the arguments. You seem to be doing a better job than me though, keep up the good work.

          • J03

            I’ve offered the examples of the mad dog and the engine that has blown a gasket to illuminate how obvious it would be to deal with deviant behavior in the absence of free-will colored glasses.

            Certainly we have to deal with bad behavior.  But let’s make this a practical rather than a moral exercise.

            I also tried to point out earlier that any omniscient, omnipotent, creator god could not be free of its own nature and therefore could not make free choices.  Even this god could not “give” us free-will, since free-will is a logical contradiction.  Furthermore, if god was the only thing in existence before everything was created, all of creation must be formed from pieces of god.  We must then conclude that god is everything and everything is god.  This means exactly as much or as little as you think it does.

            I advocate the elimination of free-will from our cultural vocabulary because I believe it contributes significantly to destructive thoughts, feelings, and ultimately actions from guilt, regret, blame, hate, and revenge.

            A appreciate your contribution to this discussion.

            namaste

          • supervexi

            I agree with you that deviancy can be dealt with outside the moral framework of free will.  I thought I was pretty clear on this point but perhaps not.  I do not think we can make a rational and logical argument that free will exists as a necessity for our condition.  But to make this practical and not moral:

            It seems that your ultimate problem with the idea of free will is the moral responsibility entailed, and then ensuing (and appropriate) feelings of guilt, regret, sorrow.  I know that you also list blame, hate, and revenge, but I would argue that a position of personal moral responsibility makes us owners of our emotions and actions (rather than just being along for the ride) and as such would dissuade these feelings, or at least actions based on them.

            In fact, it seems to me, that even a atheistic, determinist can agree that guilt and regret are powerful behavioral modifiers, and could be seen as biology’s (or evolution’s) way of regulating deviancy within the individual.

            As a brief aside, and in response to your third paragraph, please allow me to respond to a few points.  I’m afraid that you may be overstating your case, or making hasty logical leaps. 

            “any omniscient, omnipotent, creator god could not be free of its own
            nature and therefore could not make free choices.” 
              Why not?  Wouldn’t a creator god that was omniscient and omnipotent, by definition, be able to do anything?  And who is to say what its nature is?  Perhaps its nature is to make free choices.  I don’t know, and I rather doubt that anyone else (to include you) knows much more.

            “Even this god could
            not “give” us free-will, since free-will is a logical contradiction.” 
              Perhaps I missed a point you made before, if so please excuse my inattentiveness.  However, I would greatly appreciate elucidation.

            “Furthermore, if god was the only thing in existence before everything
            was created, all of creation must be formed from pieces of god.” 
              Here you premise both the nature of god, and also god’s capabilities or abilities.  First, you assume god is a thing.  Most theists I have encountered, would claim that god is immaterial.  Thus negating the rest of the argument.  Even if god were material though, you assume that god has no ability to actually create something from nothing, only the ability to create something from something else.  Otherwise, your logic would not stand up to even the most basic scrutiny.

            It seems to me (and I could be wrong, as you have yet to come out and state exactly your views beyond free will) that we hold divergent, even opposing, foundational worldviews.  And further, that these antagonistic views inform our interpretations and beliefs/positions on a variety of issues, to include free will,  I premise the existence of an all-powerful creator god, and conclude with all that this entails.  It would appear that you reject this premise, and therefore the conclusions as well.

            One final thought.  In a humanistic, deterministic, and atheistic world: morality and ethics can exist, but they are not fixed and immutable.  This being the case, if a person commits some unspecified deviancy, and feels good about it, and was unable to NOT do it (doubtless there are many others with the same deviancy, given the ~6 billion people on the planet), what right has the majority to punish it?  We already see many things in our society that were once considered to be deviancies reach acceptance and popularity.  I feel that this trend will continue and accelerate.  Whether right or wrong (assuming that these words have any real meaning) eventually society reaches a point where there is no legitimacy in dealing with any deviancy.

            Dogs may deal with deviancy, but I doubt anyone would advocate a return to brutal nature, where the deviant are murdered or exiled without a second thought, and there is no consideration for situation, or feelings, or anything else.

            In any case, I am starting to ramble on.  Thanks again for the debate, you are certainly challenging me to sharpen my own views and evidences, and I certainly enjoy the intellectual sparring!

          • J03

            It’s nice we can agree that belief in free-will is not integral to an orderly society.

            Guilt and regret can sometimes seem to lead to work towards redemption but more often seems to lead to bitterness, defensiveness, and self-loathing.  Reducing these blame factors would have a net positive effect in my opinion.  Although eliminating false beliefs should be its own reward.

            Our concept of free-will is based on the idea that we make decisions.  Decisions (weighing possible consequences) are only possible if the exact consequences are unknown.  An OOC (omniscient, omnipotent, creator) god would know all consequences and therefore could not make a “decision” (god could not weigh possible consequences) in the sense that we normally think.  God’s “choice” would be constrained by god’s knowledge of the precise consequences of everything.  God could only make the “best” choice, and since god is presumably “perfect”, that narrows the field of possible outcomes down to one.  An OOC god does not have free-will.

            An OOC god cannot give anything “free-will”.  God cannot create anything that contradicts god’s will.  If a non-god could fuuk-up god’s plan, then god could not be described as omnipotent or omniscient.  Here’s the rub, god presumably made the non-god and at that moment, gave the non-god all of the drives and desires and capabilities that non-god will ever have.  God also knows every action that non-god will take in its life and why, and the exact time and circumstances of its death.  If god cannot account for these drives and desires and capabilities and deduce the consequences of the non-gods very existence, then god can not be considered omniscient or omnipotent.

            An OOC god cannot “do anything imaginable”.  An OOC god can only do god’s will.  An OOC god can do anything god wants, however, presumably what god wants is what’s best for all of us and god must therefore act to make everything perfect.  An OOC god is strictly constrained by god’s will.

            An OOC god cannot make something from nothing.  Now this is tricky, so I’ll do my best to be clear:

            In the beginning, only the OOC god exists.  Not even “nothingness” exists.  Only the OOC god.  Now at some point the OOC god decides to make a bunch of stuff.  There is nothing to make it out of.  Aha!! you say, god makes it out of god’s imagination!!  Well, that ain’t “nothing”.  Remember, there is no “nothing” until god decides to make “nothing”.  We’ve established that only god exists at this point.  There is only one place for all this stuff to come from, and that is god.  Period.  Ok but let’s assume god makes “nothing” and then makes that into stuff.  Regardless of what god makes stuff out of, god can only make perfect things and therefore everything is perfect.  Perfect things are in harmony with god and therefore everything is in perfect harmony with god and as such an extension of god’s will and as such, part of god.

            Anyway, that should give you something to chew on.

            A practical code of ethics will mutate with technology and social norms.  There is nothing frightening about this.  This pretty much happens anyway, albeit with a lot of out-dated taboos getting dragged along and causing too much collateral damage for my tastes.

            Early humans had pretty brutal codes of ethics as well, I’d like to think we can continue to move forward.

            Oh, right, you keep indirectly asking me for my world-view.  I consider myself a taoist.

            Thank you for sharing your ideas with me in this convenient format.

            namaste

      • JJC

        http://www.philoscience.unibe.ch/documents/kursarchiv/WS06/bok.pdf 
        Check out Hillary Bok’s take on the question of free will. Her contention is that free will is a practical epistemological necessity. For example, theoretically it is possible to know the future and thus know the result of the processes that make someone take a certain course of action, however it is practically impossible to do this because if one knew the action that would be taken they could potentially change it. Thus devolving into a feedback loop where information about the future changes the future. Its an informative compatabilist argument that doesn’t take the usual compatabilist wishy washy tact. 

        • J03

          I dispute your conclusion that if you knew the future it would give you the power to change it.

          The following movies are cited as examples of not being able to change a known future, they don’t count as evidence, they are merely illustrations.

          Minority Report, The Time Machine, Paycheck, and the popular TV show Flash Forward.

          I wish I had time to read your Hillary Bok excerpt, but the font is killing my eyes.

          None of this addresses the logical problems with the very definition of free-will which is the ability to make a conscious willful decision free from outside influences.

          • JJC

            Well, it depends on what definition of free will you’re using. For instance there are countless arguments (the basic argument, the cosmological argument, argument from causality, and the list goes on) that ontologically free will can’t exist, in the sense that someone has complete control over everything they do. However, that is different from the compatabilist’s definition of free will which varies but essentially is along the lines of being morally culpable to some extent for one’s actions. It’s a subtle argument and it certainly isn’t how (free will) libertarians conceive of free will. 

            It’s much easier if you want to take the time and read this next bit:
            A Brief Overview of the Free Will Debate

            One of the most important and fundamental questions in philosophical literature is whether or not free will exists. It has long been discussed from both the perspective that asserts that we do, in fact, have free will and those who disagree with this assertion. Currently there are several schools of thought of note, libertarianism, compatabilism, and hard determinism. Over the course of this essay I will explore these various schools of thought by drawing on class readings and providing my own insights.
            Libertarianism is the school of thought that comes most naturally to individuals when they think about how the world works. Libertarians think that individuals have a will which is itself uncaused and fundamentally free. The best way to conceptualize it is to look at the will as an uncaused cause. Essentially, instead of particles interacting and giving rise to the will, the will is a separate immaterial element that effects reality in such a way as to produce a decision or make a choice. When we reason morally we often appeal to this conception of the will to justify punishment. We typically say that someone chose to do something rather than saying that they were caused to do something. For instance, if I go to an individuals house, break in, and proceed to steal there possessions, that individual and the legal system view it as me choosing to go and do those things. By saying that I did those things it is implicitly being suggested that I had the ultimate choice of doing what I did. This means that if it was possible to recreate the entire universe at the time that I choose to do the aforementioned stealing, then it would be possible for me to decide against doing that action through exercising my immaterial will. This allows me to be the sole author of my behaviors rather than a mere result of physical processes. Sole authorship allows individuals to make judgments on my behavior and assign blame to me, because I, by exercising my will, caused the event to happen (Campbell 377). Although this view is very convenient and easy to reason morally with there are problematic aspects too.
            When we think about causality we typically do so by thinking about chains of causation. Essentially these are the unbroken chains of events that happen over the passing of time. For example, a billiard table is an intuitive system that demonstrates chains of causality. When a player strikes the cue ball from the starting position the cue imparts a force onto the ball. This force sends the ball careening towards the rest of the balls, which, when struck, fly apart. These balls are bouncing around the table and its fairly easy to predict where they will go because they move in relatively straight lines and when they come in contact with other things they bounce off with predictable angles. This scenario is an example of a causal chain, the cue hitting the ball imparts a force to begin the chain and it ends when the balls lose their momentum. What libertarianism suggests is that independent of the causal chain that was started when the cue ball was struck the will can interject an affect chain in the causal chain. For instance, if we think of the billiard game as an analog of human thought processes, then libertarianism suggests that at any time, by exercising my will, I can change how the billiard balls will bounce off of each other. The problem with this view lies exactly in this contracausal freedom, it is hard to imagine a system that could work this way because we never encounter one in the world around us.
            Libertarianism, though very intuitive and accessible, has a tension with the concept of how we think about causality in the traditional sense. We typically view causality in the forms of unbroken chains, but when we add in a contracausal free will these chains are no longer unbroken.
            Hard determinism provides the counterpoint to the libertarian view. It works conceptually exactly like the example of the billiard balls. In this case however there is no will that can create contracausal effects. So in this conception of reality all our actions are unavoidable eventualities of these processes. In fact, if determinism is true, we run into an interesting concept first discussed by Laplace. If there was a being who could know everything about the universe at one time, then this being could see all the way to the beginning and to the end of the universe. There would be no way for this being to communicate this information to us because it would have to be outside of the universe to carry on its computations, but it still could theoretically do so.
            This view is traditionally very difficult to stomach. When we think about how we act we do so with the assumption that we are to some degree in control. However, if determinism is true then this is not the case. This then leads to a problem with the idea of punishment. How can we punish someone if there actions were decided by them? For example, how can I be held accountable for going to your house, breaking in, and stealing things if there is no way that I could have not done that? In this view of the world assigning responsibility is difficult because individuals are not making free choices. If this is true then putting a person in the exact same situation (exact here in the universal sense, not just similar circumstances) they will do whatever they did the first time over and over again.
            Compatibilists meet in the middle of the other two schools of thought and contend that determinism is not incompatible with moral responsibility. They contend that even if we do not have contracausal freedom we still have the capacity to make and be judged on our moral decisions. There are many different ways that compatibilists think about why it is that these two ideas are not incompatible but there are some consistent themes. In our book J.J.C Smart discusses how when we blame or praise someone we are doing so by ascribing responsibility to something along with grading it. In this example we can see that blaming a child because he is too stupid to do his homework isn’t very logical because the child is in fact incapable of doing it. But, if a child doesn’t do his homework out of laziness we can see that the problem is somewhat different. Because, even if determinism is true the child does have the logical possibility of doing something different, he isn’t incapable of doing so like the stupid child, meaning that this process of grading can change how he acts in the future.
            Libertarians and hard determinists both think that compatibilism is untrue. Galen Strawson makes an interesting argument that he dubbed the “basic argument.” It essentially shows how no individual can be responsible for their own determination and because of this no one can truly, in an ultimate sense, be morally responsible for their actions. He states that for one to be morally responsible for their actions they have to be responsible for how their mind is at any one point. But to be responsible for the way one is an individual would have to be responsible for brining about the way one is. This leads to a logical regression that goes all the way back to birth (213). Peter Van Inwagen also argues that compatibilism cannot be true by way of what he calls the first formal argument. This argument shows through truth functional logic that if determinism is true then certain actions cannot be performed if they do not align with the laws of nature and the state of the universe at any one time. If this was untrue, as a consequence of the arguments formal validity, then one of the premises that led to the conclusion would also have to be false, showing that determinism is incompatible with free will (50).
            The implications of this debate have an integral importance to how we think about morality. Take for example the current nonsense that surrounds Lyndsay Lohan. Every other day the girl is either going to court for a crime, committing a crime, or vehemently denying that she has committed a crime. Now if we take the libertarian perspective we can say that she is the sole author of her actions and thus solely responsible for it. She is not an individual who is being coerced into action nor constrained, like if she was stealing bread for her starving children. Now lets switch mentalities and look at it from a hard determinists point of view (these miniexamples are by no means complete descriptors of the philosophers who are classified as a certain type of group, rather they are stereotypic examples for the purposes of clarifying the distinct views. I by no means claim to be an expert.). If Lohan does not have any authorship of her own actions and her acts are just a product of physical realities then how can we cast moral judgment on her if she is not responsible for her actions? Finally we can look at the compatibilists view, if there is a fundamentally free will that occurs within a deterministic universe then we can ascribe responsibility to Lohan even though she had no real choice, but based on the fact that she was not incapable of making different decisions. All of these viewpoints are ways to look at the situation but some are certainly more often cited then others. I would contend that most people look at the situation and take a libertarian point of view, which is Lohan is responsible for her own situation.
            All in all, there are many different conceptions of whether or not we possess free will or if it is even possible that it could exist and causality be the same as it is typically thought to be now. Libertarians and hard determinists think that free will is fundamentally incompatible with determinism. Compatiblism say that this is untrue and that moral judgment can be made even though determinism is true. Lastly, it is important to notice how these different views can result in vastly different valuations of responsibility and what the moral repercussions are.

          • J03

            Thanks for the overview.

            Libertarian free-will is logically indefensible.  We may agree on this point.

            Compatibilism has the problem of justifying usage of the term free-will.  If we dispose of the term free-will, we can then start a constructive process of defining practical solutions to the problems inherent in society without the scape-goat of “individual responsibility”.  Problems with individuals are systemic problems.  Individuals do not create problems out of thin air (ex nihilo).

            I’ve actually encountered atheists who hold a compatibilist view of religion, saying that although they don’t personally believe in religion, they think that it generally makes people better and is good for society.  This view, whether applied to free-will or religion, is the very definition of intellectual dishonesty.

            Your overview fails to mention that indeterminism is also incompatible with free-will.  Hard determinism mixed with some degree of randomness could provide a theoretical framework for an unknowable future collapsing into a single unalterable past.  Since randomness is antithetical to human decision making, adding some randomness to an otherwise deterministic framework does nothing to rescue the concept of free-will.

            namaste

          • A Christian

            If free will did not exist in part and personal responsibility fell completely on society for the actions of any of its individuals (with some blame on the genetic contributions of the parents) then any of the most violent criminals must go unpunished…that means all of them.  I don’t think anyone would agree to that, if anyone did, then I would suggest they think of a case in which that violent criminal victimized a loved one of that person. 

            Since thought is literally a quantum function and that field of research is in its infancy, why should we be so presumptuous as to think we know what is going on in terms of decision making?  Quantum theory is in the “world is flat” stage right now, we all know the dangers of making such decisions at this most early stage.

            I think that to philosophize over it may be entertaining, but recently there are some neurological scientists making pretty bold claims with ramifications in the department of Justice if taken seriously.  It will not be long before we see these arguments occurring in a courtroom.

          • J03

            Without individual responsibility (via free-will) we still have a more than adequate framework to deal with deviant behavior.  We do not presume that children have free-will and yet we take measures to modify their behavior when deemed necessary.  The same is true for the example of the mad dog.  A mad dog does not have free-will, but it is easy to recognize that steps must be taken in order to preserve the normal function of our society.  Nobody is proposing that we let everyone who is guilty of a crime simply go free.

            Quantum theory has nothing to do with the validity of free-will.  Quantum fluctuations may be inherently random, but even if this is true, we must bear in mind that a human cannot control randomness and therefore cannot be held personally responsible for actions that may arise from randomness.  Randomness is antithetical to free-will.

            Without the superstition of free-will it behooves us to both take action to modify the behavior of individuals who threaten the orderliness of our society and to address the systemic malfunctions that lead to such behavior.

            This simply turns our justice system into a practical rather than a moral institution.

            namaste

          • JJC

            Alright, just because I am perpetually fascinated by this stuff. I’ll through a paper I wrote about it out there if you folks are interested in checking it out.

            I.
            The implications of the free will debate carry far beyond purely questions about the nature of causality in the universe. In addition to the considerations of whether or not mechanism is true or is incompatible with free will, there are also moral implications about how exactly we should address individuals who perform actions that are deemed morally incorrect. With the libertarian conception of free will, where an individual is themselves the originator of actions, people can be held ultimately responsible for their actions because they acausally utilized their free will to cause the morally incorrect action to come about. However, if we take the view that mechanism is true, it seems as if punishing a person because they did something morally undesirable is incorrect because he/she was in fact just a step in a long causal process that ended in the action, instead of the sole originator of the action itself. Under the first view we can understand that the inclination to punish retributively makes sense. If an individual was truly the sole cause of the morally undesirable action then he deserves the whole blame for the action. On the other hand, if we take the second view that the action done was not really under his control (in a way where he was the sole originator of his action), then it appears that punishing the individual because he was solely responsible does not make sense. Instead, if an individual is not solely responsible for his action then the more effective means for society to prevent that individual from behaving similarly in the future seems to be reforming the individual who performed the act, instead of punishing him. So, when we discuss how to address moral issues we must either have a true concept of ultimate responsibility that justifies retributive punishment as something which that person deserves or we must try to recognize the reasons why an individual acted the way he did in order to prevent that from happening again in the future. Secondary to this discussion is whether or not, if we did have a mechanistic conception of the universe, our human emotions that typically get used to justify retributive punishment are so inextractable from our very nature that it is not possible to operate without them. In order to highlight these alternative views I will discuss various thinkers who have come down on both sides of these issues.
            C. S. Lewis was a leading figure in the Anglican Church and wrote on theological subjects. He was concerned with what he deemed the “Humanitarian Theory of Punishment” that had been on the rise in England. This viewpoint rejected that a man actually deserved a punishment and instead thought that legitimate motives for punishing are its deterrent effects or to better the criminal (448). While Lewis does admit that this stance does seem to be more humane than traditional retributive punishment he thinks that it belies a more sinister aspect, that an individual is deprived of his human rights when he is being forced to go through a process to “cure” him. While individuals may very well agree or disagree with the jury’s decision on a certain case, the medical community that is treating a criminal therapeutically answers to not a set sentence but rather only to their judgment of when an individual is “cured”. He also takes issue with the ability for a humanitarian system to use people as deterrents without them necessarily deserving it, because humanitarians have no use of that concept. This, Lewis thinks, could lead to innocent people being tried and found guilty in order to deter others who think that he is guilty from performing the same alleged crime. Thus if a trial can be faked fairly simply, as Lewis says it can be, it may very well be more expedient and helpful to actually frame an innocent man (450). Lewis ends with the thought that in the hands of a tyrant the humanitarian view of punishment could be used to conflate mental illness with mind states that differ from the tyrant’s interests, thus allowing the imposition of being cured onto the individual (451).
            Opposed to Lewis’s view is Karl Menninger. He argues that while we intuitively think that we should reward what is good with pleasure and punish what is bad with pain, this is not the most effective means to deter or control criminal behavior. Even though individuals know that they will be punished if they perform certain actions that does not deter some people from doing those very things in the first place (49). Menninger takes a psychological perspective on the criminals who are typically caught up in the criminal justice system. He thinks that typically they are put into a cell for a while then thrown back into a society that has already imposed the stigma of criminality upon him, further isolating himself from parts of society which do not contain criminal themselves. Due to these issues Menninger supports a system in which a patient is detained indefinitely until he can be deemed healthy. While some criminals will have to be held under a secure watch there can be different levels of security based on the patients themselves (51). However, if this course of treatment fails Menninger thinks we must “look our failure in the face” (51) and contain the prisoner indefinitely. This course of action would supposedly remove some of the waste and loss of man power concomitant with housing prisoners. He ends with concluding that we must take the constructive course of action and try to heal prisoners instead of primitively reacting to them with retributive punishment.
            In “Persons and Punishment” Herbert Morris argues for an individual’s right to punishment. While Morris recognizes that the idea that someone may have the right to punishment is a counterintuitive one he thinks that it can be founded in a person’s right to be treated as a person (62). To illustrate his point Morris conceives of two different systems of social control. The first resembles the contemporary prison where an individual is sent when he breaks the rules for an unfair benefit and causes a burden to other people (63). The second example institution is formed around the prohibition of different types of harms. In the second case an individual who harms another individual is in fact doing so because of some pathology. Morris claims that by regarding any harmful action as pathology essentially removes the distinction between a man sneezing due to a stuffy nose and a man purposefully throwing a punch. He thinks that erasing this distinction makes every criminal case a therapeutic one, something that differs wildly from the ends of punishment. In this system it seems that there is no place for the idea of repaying one’s debt to society incurred by placing greater burden on other people in the society in the first place (67). Morris thinks that instead of arousing shame and being treated like a human being by being punished, we are instead made into the unfortunate carriers of disease or the lucky recipients of compassionate therapy. By being punished we are given the right to view ourselves not as animals but instead as people who deserve treatment beyond animals and people who can attenuate our own debt to society (69). Thus it is important for us to understand that punishment is essentially being given the right to not be treated like an animal, rather as a human being who has some responsibility beyond what can be deemed to be a disease.
            The famed philosopher John Rawls also weighed in on this debate. The purpose of his argument is that there are “Two Concepts of Rules”. This distinction lies in between justifying a practice and justifying a particular action falling under this practice (3). It is his intent to show that the traditional objections to utilitarianism can be dismissed through the proper understanding of how this distinction operates. The first type of punishment in Rawls’ eyes is that the wrongdoer requires some sort of suffering in proportion to his wrongdoing because he is guilty (5). The second type is that of taking the utilitarian stance and forgiving passed actions but then responding to them in such a way that they do not happen in the future. It is Rawls’ aim to reconcile the tension between these two different views by applying the two different conceptions of rules. He then shows that it appears that the judge who is pronouncing punishment in hindsight is taking the retributive view of punishment while the legislator who hopes to use the laws to push for future benefits to society is using the utilitarian view of punishment (6). This, Rawls thinks, is a result of misunderstanding that the legislator is establishing a system in which the judge must act retributively purely as a result of needing to prove guilt and not to “preserve a correspondence between moral turpitude and suffering” (7). Rawls then replies to the idea of utilitarianism being used to justify the conviction of innocents on the basis of its deterrent effects that are beneficial to society. So, Rawls imagines an institution that has this type of “telishment” allowing it to charge an innocent man if the deterrent effects are going to have a large effect on an outbreak of crime. Rawls challenges this on the basis of not knowing where to actually place any sort of check on authority and by describing how the populace effected by this institution would have no way of knowing whether a man sentenced is actually being punished or telished (12). When these issues become the case then there ultimately will not be as much benefit as alternative systems that perform punishment. In doing so he demonstrates that theoretically the idea could be justified in a particular case but could not be justified as a rule of the institution itself because in the long run it causes more harm than good.
            Thomas Nagel discusses moral luck in his paper. In it he raises the question of how it is possible to blame someone for doing an action based purely on the results while not considering the potential unlikelihood of the results. For instance, if there are two people driving in the woods and going over the posted speed limit and the first hits a deer, we typically blame the first person and not the second person although they were performing the same act. But, Nagel asks, how is this justified? He eventually shows that this seems to be a similar problem that the incompatibilists have. If we are to judge people only on external happenings then we are denying that they have intentions within themselves. However if we deny that the external happenings have relevance to our moral decision making then we are excluding our external view of action which allows us to operate within the world (450).
            In his discussion of reactive attitudes Peter Strawson asks what role our emotions should take in our ascription of moral judgment. He points out that the way we act largely has a foundation on how we view the intentions and circumstances surrounding another’s actions (75). For example, imagine a man walking up to you while you were sitting on the grass somewhere and treading across your hand. You would naturally feel some sort of resentment towards this man because it seems obvious that he could have easily avoided having done so if he were to have been more conscientious. However, imagine if your friend spotted you sitting on the grass and walked over and in the process stepped on your hand. In the latter case you would forgive your friend because you could see that he did not intend to do that in the first place and it was just a matter of a misplaced step. It can be taken a step further and imagined that the person who stepped on your hand was foaming at the mouth and obviously portraying symptoms of a mental illness. If he were to step on your foot it would be hard to resent him because he is obviously not in his right mind (79). It is Strawson’s view that it is very important to remember that our moral regulations come from these reactive attitudes and what we consider to be good or bad is not carried out coolly and rationally but rather as a result of these reactive attitudes in the first place. Thus he believes that the compatabilists viewpoint is correct if we move from considering their idea of moral judgments from a completely objective standpoint to the subjective standpoint implied when we judge other’s actions based on their intentions (93).
            Charles Goodman uses the lens of reactive attitudes to better understand what the Buddhist position on the free will debate is. He thinks that the Buddhist tradition has a way out of considering both the practice and theory of moral responsibility (362). The Buddhist doctrine of the nonself is the launching of point at which Goodman deals with these problems. The doctrine of the nonself, while multifaceted and complicated, can essentially be summed up as such: there is no self that is not a conventional truth that makes it easier to operate in everyday life, on the ultimate level this self does not actually exist. Goodman views the Buddhist conception of the free will debate as that of a hard determinist position. If one does not have a self then they have no ultimate capability of effecting what happens. Due to this conception the Buddhist have various meditative practices to get beyond the emotional reactive attitudes that are brought up in life (368). He contends that some reactive attitudes could remain in the Buddhist conception but a focus on how individuals are not ultimately responsible can bring about a reduction in anger and resentment that could be beneficial to our interpersonal lives (370).
            Derek Pereboom also agrees with the hard incompatabilist’s view. He designs several alterations on Frankfurt’s thought experiments having to do with alternate possibility (94-97). He uses these examples to argue against libertarians and their arguments. A lot of his chapter deals with other arguments that have already been discussed in my past papers and in this paper, but I find the most interesting section to be his conception of what this all means for how we live our lives. He suggests that while it is typically thought of as a bad thing to drop moral responsibility how we currently conceive it, that does not mean that there cannot be some sort way to modulate peoples’ behaviors (114-118). Pereboom comes to a similar conclusion as Goodman does using Buddhism. Essentially, some reactive emotions may be ruled out by a hard deterministic worldview but these would likely be moral resentment and anger. This would end up leaving us with a different system of reactive emotions that would not be founded on whether or not someone was blameworthy (120). Pereboom drastically reshapes the notion of moral responsibility and how it affects us by arguing that the emotions Strawson talks about may not actually be the ones that would be most conducive to a good life.
            The revisionist perspective is addressed by Manuel Vargas. Essentially he believes that the different schools of thought on the free will problem actually present a false dichotomy that is not required to understand the issues at hand. He uses experimental philosophy to show the way lay people do think. He shows that depending on the context the way that the lay person discusses free will can be changed (137). However, he expresses misgivings about the libertarian point of view not because it is incoherent or unintelligible but because it seems to be empirically implausible (141). Vargas also takes note of the relatively poor track record philosophers of the mind have had at predicting how the brain actually works (145). Vargas then moves into discussing his revisionist account of how we should think about free will and responsibility that is not founded in diagnosing how we do think about it but rather the normative system which would be the best way to think about. He contends that responsibility is founded in human beings ability to take into account moral considerations that give rise to reasons for action (155). The relevant notion of free will that Vargas is getting at is the idea that free will is founded in the fact that something has the ability to detect moral considerations and they are capable of self-governance (160). Where this theory parts ways from the compatibilist school of thought is that it thinks that the commonsense intuitions of free will and responsibility are not compatible, rather an adapted framework can render the question of their compatibility moot (163). Vargas essentially makes the point that the status quo in the philosophy of free will is based in commonsense in such a way that it naturally takes the incompatibilist view point. But if we can change the framework of how it is discussed the problem evaporates.
            All of these philosophers have very important things to say about the free will debate. It is important to note how the frameworks put forth by these thinkers does have wide ranging consequences on how we morally treat each other in the real world. All in all, it is quite evident that the question is not settled between these dialogues but I will be interested to see where the revisionist school of thought leads, because it could make the rest of the dialogue a thing of the past.

            II.
            I will draw on the previous descriptions of the various authors to attempt and synthesize my own points of view briefly. A lot has been said already and I hope to not rehash myself, rather I would like to extend beyond what I have written and said already. With these goals in mind I will address how I think we should react to immoral behavior and what we should do about it.
            In my estimation the responses that are appropriate to good and bad actions of one’s self and others is fairly straight forward, Pereboom and Goodman have hit the nail right on the head. If we are to understand the inevitability of another person’s actions and that they had no ultimate choice in the matter then moral anger can quickly drop away from how we interact with each other. If we were to do this it seems to me as if there would be a lot more careful consideration of how an individual will act in his/her situation. This distance from the situation, in which you experience the emotion but then consider it rather than become its slave, should ultimately result in less quickness to judge or to react violently. In regards to how one acts towards themselves I think that regret is a much more productive emotion than guilt. Guilt is a self-destructive way of thinking that only reinforces the bad behavior in the first place because it causes one to start to see themselves as the bad person that they believe themselves to be. This leads to an acceptance of oneself as a bad person as opposed to someone who did a bad thing in the past, regretted it, and became a better person. The reduction of considering one’s self or others to be ultimately responsible would result in a world which is not as reactive and judgmental as the one we currently have.
            In regards to how criminals should be treated I am still somewhat torn. On the one hand I think that Rawls did a very good job dismantling the idea of telishment that C.S. Lewis articulated with his concerns about punishing the innocent for utilitarian ends. However, I also do not trust the medical establishment to not abuse their power in ways that invalidates the rights of criminals. It is dangerous in my opinion to conflate criminality with mental illness the way Menninger does because it allows for the sort of hegemoniacal tyranny of the majority that can result from a misuse of the intended therapeutic process. By all means, allow prisoners to have therapy if they so choose and allow their therapist to have some sort of feedback within the parole and sentencing context. But, I think it would be unwise to force anyone into therapy in order to change them, when their crime has the possibility of being morally correct yet legally incorrect. Or on the opposite side, do not give a corrupt banker the right to opt out and claim it was not his fault he was corrupt because he was mentally ill. So in terms of how we treat criminals, make therapy and their attempts to better themselves an integral part of when they are released and how their parole is arranged, but don’t allow the therapeutic community to supersede a set sentence because what they view as a disease may in fact be a result of how we view certain behaviors themselves, with no moral backing.
            I do like how Vargas defines what it means to be a responsible agent. The idea that an individual must be both sensitive to moral concerns and capable of governing their actions in accordance with this is a good one. I think that this viewpoint also speaks to the conception of a responsible agent I put forward in my last paper. I believe human sensitivity to moral concerns and our ability to want to think in certain ways (2nd order desires) is one of the closest ways to decide between what is a responsible agent and what type of agent cannot be considered responsible. This definition also goes a long way towards ruling out animals and the mentally infirm that we typically do not consider to be morally responsible the same way the average human being is.
            In conclusion, I think that while at some points the free will debate seems to go around and around in circles it is one of the most important questions to consider. Firstly, because how we think about morality and responsibility is completely tied up in the way we think about what exactly we are and in what sense we are or not free. Secondly, because the way in which we conceive free will has broad reaching effects in our institutions and morality, specifically the penal system. And lastly, the free will debate does an excellent job of demonstrating how intuitive notions can be shown to be problematic and not very applicable to theoretical considerations.

          • JJC

            Yeah I left out indeterminism just because its very similar to determinism in so far as it presents the same type of challenges. Robert Kane has some ideas about quantum indeterminacies being augmented by chaotic system in cell firing, potentially causing some sort of free will to arise. But, as Bell’s theorem shows us there is no ability to effect the outcome of a superposition’s wave collapse, i.e. it is truly random. So I can’t really buy into Robert Kane’s stuff, it is an interesting work along those lines if you ever want to check it out.

  • J03

    This is an important topic that quickly degenerates into name-calling.  Atheists are evil bastards and theists are crazy idiots.  Neither of these is true (although at times it seems they both are).

    There is a more important question that if approached with dispassionate logic, seems to collapse both sides.

    As unlikely as it seems, recognizing the logical impossibility of free-will holds the key to squaring this circle.

    Atheist torch bearer Sam Harris makes a strong argument against free-will.  I would recommend that any atheist who thinks that they reject any and all superstitious mumbo-jumbo and yet somehow inexplicably still believe in their own free-will/free-agency take a few minutes to listen to Sam’s commentary on the subject.

    As for the so-called religious/spiritualist/hippies, not even the most powerful of super-beings could be free from its experience, capability and fundamental nature.  This means that even an omniscient omnipotent creator would be forced to perform actions that were in accordance with its experience, capability and fundamental nature.

    This leaves us with a god as Spinoza describes which in the interest of brevity I will summarize as, “god is everything and everything is god”.  Many claim this proves Spinoza was an atheist and many atheists will declare that this statement is meaningless and the idea that everything is god makes the idea of god moot.  This is of course not true.  

    The idea that god is speaking to you through every person you meet can be profoundly powerful and can only lead to having more respect for your fellow human beings.  And I think you’d agree that an increase in world-wide respect for our fellow human beings would be a great benefit to us all.

  • TheYawningPreterist

    “Israel will come out on top and rebuild their temple in East Jerusalem…” You do realize that the temple was already destroyed and rebuilt quite some time ago? And therefore there is absolutely no reason – as far as these silly prophecies are concerned for why it should have to be rebuilt all over again. You should Google “preterism” and educate yourself. I highly recommend this is as a stating point: http://en.preterism.com/index.php?title=Frequently_Asked_Questions   

    “…If this happens then you have your proof in the Christian and Jewish God being real” How do you figure? I could see it being explained as self-fulfilled prophecy but that’s about it…

  • Vexed.

    Really does not matter what anybody believes, because well… Everybody is going to die. So Die with your bullshit arguments and compulsive belief systems. Obsessive compulsive Agitators are everywhere. With A Knack for taunting and tormenting others.

    • Jamie Cox

      A man may die, but not his ideas.

  • Vexed.

    Really does not matter what anybody believes, because well… Everybody is going to die. So Die with your bullshit arguments and compulsive belief systems. Obsessive compulsive Agitators are everywhere. With A Knack for taunting and tormenting others.

  • Anonymous

    Good post. 

    I have become a bit obsessed with the subjects of reality, abstraction, faith or belief, free will etc.
    I’d like to point out the trap of trying to explain things in words. I have found that words and language in general are all metaphor for individual and collective experiences. Language works best to describe common experiences. (ie. when we say the word “cat” we all picture a furry carnivore in general, but each person may picture the details of “cat” very differently). All words carry a necessarily unique meaning and portent to each person who uses and interprets them. 

    Which brings us to words like “faith”, “God”, “Magick”, “athiest” and “religion” in particular. The common Webster’s definitions are incomplete and insufficient. They are esoteric in nature. Things esoteric in nature are to be fathomed only through experience, not so much by the exchange of words or by the riddles language constantly present us with. As they tend to do, discussions on this topic generally serve to further confuse and befuddle us. We keep stepping in the cracks of understanding that exist between what we mean and what we say. What is said and what we hear and interpret. Abstraction and reality. Description of a thing is not the thing itself.

    What actually happens of course, can not be contained in words. The experience that one has -IS reality.
    The “common reality” is simply what has been commonly experienced. It what the phrase “common sense” is based on. Basic things, most of us can agree on. Things like: water is wet, heat is hot, the sun is bright etc.etc. Beyond these things it seems as though there is nothing apparent that binds our individual realities together. Perhaps faith or God or whatever is that binding force that bridges our realities in its infinitly subtle ways….

  • Matt

    As a christian, I have to say you’re nuttier than squirrel turd. I don’t know a single atheist or even pagan for that matter that looks up to crowley, many don’t even know who he is. Discrediting crowley helps your argument ZERO. I believe God is our lord and savior but damn man. Chill out. At least consider the possibility that because man is corrupt that maybe religion and scripture have been altered to serve not God but the greed of man. Consider that the idea of God is too important to trust in the hands of mortals. If you believe in God that’s what you’re doing. Putting faith not in God but in the men and women that have told you so by word of mouth and by scripture. Scripture that has been passed down and translated, edited, interpreted numerous times by men and women. It’s faith that these individuals have carried out Gods word verbatim. I for one don’t trust that. Find God of  your own accord. Pay no attention to the bible, church, scripture, crowley, your parents. None of it. Find God on your own. Or just wait until you meet him in death. And yes we don’t know alot about our universe but until we meet God for ourselves, those blanks are not gonna be filled in by him. Not until he decides to return. Science is the best we have for understanding our universe until we meet God in the afterlife.

  • Vexed.

    You are all wrong, only katy perry’s ET knows. Mcdonalds is the Best Food ever, America can do no wrong, And everybody knows they are right about everything, obviously here in America. Here in America everybody’s Racial and Religious/Atheistic standpoints cannot be wrong… In other words everybody is a winner and on top and King no less. EVERYBODY believes there Poop is delightful and well scented to the others, They are damn sure of it!

  • Vexed.

    You are all wrong, only katy perry’s ET knows. Mcdonalds is the Best Food ever, America can do no wrong, And everybody knows they are right about everything, obviously here in America. Here in America everybody’s Racial and Religious/Atheistic standpoints cannot be wrong… In other words everybody is a winner and on top and King no less. EVERYBODY believes there Poop is delightful and well scented to the others, They are damn sure of it!

  • rus_r_us

    We probably have to start by educating ourselves to what religion actually means. It doesn’t mean god-belief. Buddhism anyone?

    • Tuna Ghost

      Perhaps a useful exercise would be comparing a monotheistic religion’s effect and role in society and individuals with that of a religion that has no deity?  Care to take a crack at it?

  • rus_r_us

    We probably have to start by educating ourselves to what religion actually means. It doesn’t mean god-belief. Buddhism anyone?

  • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

    All joking aside, this is an important direction to look in. Thank you for your efforts.

    When one or both sides of an issue are unwilling to reconsider postulates, progress is nigh impossible to make.

  • Tuna Ghost

    Either way, Crowley was still a drug addicted pedophile, that is a scientific fact.

    From anyone else, I’d automatically assume this is a joke, but I have a feeling you’re being serious.  Aside from the fact that science has nothing to do with it, AND that his drug use has already been explained to you as prescribed by a doctor, what evidence do you have that he was a paedophile?  I’m guessing somewhere in the neighborhood of…nothing.

  • Anarchy Pony

    AAAGHH Obligatory insensitive ethno religious remark!

    • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

      GRARGH! Obligatory outrage! You’re an expletive!

      • Tuna Ghost

        hey now, let’s obligatory call to sanity

        • anti-crowley

          Exact OPPOSITE statement of Tuna Ghost, end of story.

          • anti-crowley

            Flippant remark in attempt to re-energize thread? 

      • Anarchy Pony

        No you are an expletive and I am calling the legitimacy of your parentage into question!

        • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

          Mama Gradient is a saint! I’m bringing up the original issue simultaneously comparing you to hitler.

  • Wanooski

    AAAGHH Obligatory insensitive ethno religious remark!

  • Pier

    I know many will bash me for this, but it is what I really think and it’s not an irrational opinion. If you believe in god and can’t accept people are different just ignore me.

    The belief in god is in most cases a mental disorder.

    I can accept human knowledge is still very limited. There are many unexplained phenomena… but accepting fantasy as truth is not a healthy indicator. Imagine someone believing that Yoda exists… isn’t that disturbing?

    Of course fantasy is a necessary element of the human brain. As long as there has been knowledge there has been fiction. It is part of our evolution. It makes sense to me that imagination and fantasy has helped our brains to develop faster. Also fiction can be a vehicle of truth, if we can distinguish between the vehicle and the message.

    I believe Jesus existed. I say I believe because I have no proof. But his message (or what has survived after such a long time) is still valid: love, respect, etc. Of course one has to distinguish between the fantasy, which was most probably added afterwards by the romans or other ignorant people, and the message. BTW, the bible we know today was written 400 years after Jesus by the romans, much like what the Grimm brothers did with the european folklore.

    This is an interesting book about this subject I really recommend
    http://www.amazon.com/Zen-Teachings-Jesus-Kenneth-Leong/dp/0824518837

    • Tuna Ghost

      Okay, but what about religions that don’t have a deity?  What about religions where belief in the objective existence of a deity isn’t necessary?  Are these more suited to a modern society, and in what way?

      • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

        What about religions that accept a nonexistence of a god but find it better to believe in one as a tool for particular goals. In that manner, what if some felt that the pure faith and belief in this god would get those goals more effectively if they did not accept the nonexistence, so taught their children to believe in it wholeheartedly?

    • anti-crowley

      There is more proof for Jesus existing than for most of the historical figures I’m sure you believe existed.  We have many non Biblical accounts of Jesus (Josephus for example) that give a nonpartisan witness to the fact that the person of Joshua Ben Joseph (Jesus Christ) was an actual living man.  Josephus also confirms that there were miracles contributed to this man called Jesus, though he did not claim to have witnessed them.  I might also remind you that the question of the origin or non-origin of the universe are both questions with nothing but unbelievable answers to them.  Either matter has existed with no beginning, it came from another dimension which came from another dimension ect.  or it came from absolutely nothing (no matter to cause a big bang, no space ect).

      The canon was assembled nearly 400 years after Christ, but the books within it were of the century of Christs life.  I would refer you to Polycarp, Ireneaus, Ignateous, Philo, or Josephus.  As for the old testament,  the dead sea scrolls date mainly before Christ.  You have simply fallen into false facts that are pushed by those who have no knowledge of scholarship, but get away with making statements like that because nobody in the room has any education in the things I have just mentioned.  I am not attacking you here, I used much of the same arguments you are making myself in the past, until I researched the stuff.  Please look into it yourself.

  • Pier

    I know many will bash me for this, but it is what I really think and it’s not an irrational opinion. If you believe in god and can’t accept people are different just ignore me.

    The belief in god is in most cases a mental disorder.

    I can accept human knowledge is still very limited. There are many unexplained phenomena… but accepting fantasy as truth is not a healthy indicator. Imagine someone believing that Yoda exists… isn’t that disturbing?

    Of course fantasy is a necessary element of the human brain. As long as there has been knowledge there has been fiction. It is part of our evolution. It makes sense to me that imagination and fantasy has helped our brains to develop faster. Also fiction can be a vehicle of truth, if we can distinguish between the vehicle and the message.

    I believe Jesus existed. I say I believe because I have no proof. But his message (or what has survived after such a long time) is still valid: love, respect, etc. Of course one has to distinguish between the fantasy, which was most probably added afterwards by the romans or other ignorant people, and the message. BTW, the bible we know today was written 400 years after Jesus by the romans, much like what the Grimm brothers did with the european folklore.

    This is an interesting book about this subject I really recommend
    http://www.amazon.com/Zen-Teachings-Jesus-Kenneth-Leong/dp/0824518837

  • Vexed.

    The Kingdom is pointless when every other turd and their mother wants to sit their stinky self on the throne. Give it up all of you! No one is King. What This world needs is an 
    Ænema

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCEeAn6_QJo

  • Vexed.

    The Kingdom is pointless when every other turd and their mother wants to sit their stinky self on the throne. Give it up all of you! No one is King. What This world needs is an 
    Ænema

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCEeAn6_QJo

  • No Man’s Land

     I can see how atheism makes sense. I can’t bring my mind to accept it, due all the unexplained mysteries out there, such as consciousness, but I sometimes find myself seeing the world through the eyes of an atheist. I can see how it sometimes is easier not to believe in a higher power. A lot of times it’s better not to believe in any kind of god because the way things play out in the world makes it seem like if there is a god he/she/it is out to sabotage us. Here is where the anti-mystical lies, whereas in mysticism one has the experience of unification with a god who has us in are best interest, in the inverse, one’s fate is at the mercy of god who wants us to fail. A hard feeling to shake if you’ve ever had it.

    Talking about religion usually goes around in circles usually due to the lack of concrete operational definitions of anything. Try to get two Christians to agree on the definition of the Holy Ghost. Look at how many denominations of Christianity there are. Then try to compare and contrast concepts like heaven, hell, salvation, divine intervention, across completely different religions and you have a bunch of people not really knowing what anyone else is talking about but thinking they themselves have all the answers.

    Lot of people have weird experiences everyday. People have near death experiences, have the perception of group telepathy and see ancient archetypal visions on ayahuasca, have hour long orgasms during tantric sex described as being spiritual in nature, snowboard or ski fifty feet in the air off cliffs and land safely on the ground, experience feelings of overwhelming bliss and energy during 100 mile ultra-marathons, and so on. Science and religion can try to put these experiences in their own little box according to how they want to define things, but anyone trying to explain these experiences can not replicate in their own head the essence of actually experiencing such things. The experience itself is the only true reality, even personal memories have been proven to be mental reconstructions. See:http://www.visualexpert.com/Resources/eyewitnessmemory.html

    I think when life made the most sense was when I was somewhat aware in the back of my brain that there was probably a higher power but no one including myself had any idea about what it was or what it expected of us except that it was probably something creating itself right here in the moment. Then, I hit a streak of bad luck, started believing in powers of fate controlled by an unknown hand, but then figured out I didn’t know what to believe anymore. Beliefs are byproducts of the times one is living through and living in. Still, I never really felt like I could truly believe in nothing. That’s why if someone forced me at gun point to describe my religious beliefs, I’d say I’m an agnostic theist, in some kind of no man’s land between belief and disbelief.

    • Tuna Ghost

      I can see how atheism makes sense. I can’t bring my mind to accept it, due all the unexplained mysteries out there, such as consciousness,…

      I’m not sure how the existence of God is tied up with consciousness, but let me ask you: are you aware that there are materialist explanations for consciousness?  Look up Dan Dennett and Douglas Hofstatder.  

      Talking about religion usually goes around in circles usually due to the lack of concrete operational definitions of anything.

      This is true when one is attempting to nail down the metaphysics of a religion, but studying its role and its effect on society and individuals does not have these kinds of problems (it has a whole collection of other problems, but still).

      • No Man’s Land

         Materialist explanations of consciousness try to reduce to consciousness down to computational activities. Sure most of consciousness involves computations, but they haven’t explained the big picture. They can explain things along the lines of viewing the brain as an organic computer, which works well for dealing with things that follow the principles of Behaviorism and classical conditioning but they seem shaky to me when trying to deal with things like intuition, spontaneous insight, and the experience of energy transduction awareness (ex like kundalini and “runner’s high”, where one is aware of a universal energy force that manifest itself in different forms and can produces energy by changing forms, so one can feel the transformation of oxygen breathed in into energy in the muscles…hard to explain, that’s the best I can come up with right now.). They also don’t take into account the mysteries still unexplained, such as near death experiences. In Pim Van Lommel’s book “Consciousness Beyond Life” (THE best book ever on the NDE phenomenon, written by a cardiologist and not some new age hack), he talks about a case where a lady was undergoing surgery for a brain aneurysm had all the blood drained from her brain, shutting it’s activity down to zero. She had a near death experience in which she overheard the medical staff and later verified specific things that were said. This shows that consciousness may go beyond the physical components of the brain.
        Consciousness is tied to the existence of God because if there is a God, our consciousness is our connection with that higher being. If there is an afterlife, then the same consciousness that is “inside” our brain will be the one that travels to the “other side”. If there is a soul, one’s consciousness is it’s anchor in this world. It is the foundation of our existence, yet one of the biggest mysteries of our existence. Even if it is explained by materialistic means, I find the fact that it exists at all a sort of guiding light showing that it’s really unlikely that everything just came about by accident. The complexity of the brain is astounding. There are billions of neurons with trillions of connections between them, and somehow this big ball of highly interconnected electric jello gives one a sense of identity and meaning. When it comes to seeing the world through the eyes of an atheist, thinking about how consciousness emerged from a brain that developed by accident is about the point where I give up. I know, not rational or scientific, but when I feel like I’m trying to force myself to believe something like that, it just doesn’t work for me.
        “This is true when one is attempting to nail down the metaphysics of a religion, but studying its role and its effect on society and individuals does not have these kinds of problems (it has a whole collection of other problems, but still). “
        The role of religion and it’s effect on society and individuals is rooted on the metaphysics of the religions involved. It’s the metaphysical thinking that ties in with the ideas of “Who is God, why did he put us here, how does he want us to act, what will he do to us if we don’t do things his way”. It’s one’s metaphysical concept of a either a loving or vengeful god that prompts one to either accept or reject others. Even in the same church, it’s common for people to dispute about whether or not god interferes with people’s lives on earth, punishes people with illnesses or injuries when they mess up, or punishes society as a whole for “man’s law” contradicting “God’s law”.

  • No Man’s Land

     I can see how atheism makes sense. I can’t bring my mind to accept it, due all the unexplained mysteries out there, such as consciousness, but I sometimes find myself seeing the world through the eyes of an atheist. I can see how it sometimes is easier not to believe in a higher power. A lot of times it’s better not to believe in any kind of god because the way things play out in the world makes it seem like if there is a god he/she/it is out to sabotage us. Here is where the anti-mystical lies, whereas in mysticism one has the experience of unification with a god who has us in are best interest, in the inverse, one’s fate is at the mercy of god who wants us to fail. A hard feeling to shake if you’ve ever had it.

    Talking about religion usually goes around in circles usually due to the lack of concrete operational definitions of anything. Try to get two Christians to agree on the definition of the Holy Ghost. Look at how many denominations of Christianity there are. Then try to compare and contrast concepts like heaven, hell, salvation, divine intervention, across completely different religions and you have a bunch of people not really knowing what anyone else is talking about but thinking they themselves have all the answers.

    Lot of people have weird experiences everyday. People have near death experiences, have the perception of group telepathy and see ancient archetypal visions on ayahuasca, have hour long orgasms during tantric sex described as being spiritual in nature, snowboard or ski fifty feet in the air off cliffs and land safely on the ground, experience feelings of overwhelming bliss and energy during 100 mile ultra-marathons, and so on. Science and religion can try to put these experiences in their own little box according to how they want to define things, but anyone trying to explain these experiences can not replicate in their own head the essence of actually experiencing such things. The experience itself is the only true reality, even personal memories have been proven to be mental reconstructions. See:http://www.visualexpert.com/Resources/eyewitnessmemory.html

    I think when life made the most sense was when I was somewhat aware in the back of my brain that there was probably a higher power but no one including myself had any idea about what it was or what it expected of us except that it was probably something creating itself right here in the moment. Then, I hit a streak of bad luck, started believing in powers of fate controlled by an unknown hand, but then figured out I didn’t know what to believe anymore. Beliefs are byproducts of the times one is living through and living in. Still, I never really felt like I could truly believe in nothing. That’s why if someone forced me at gun point to describe my religious beliefs, I’d say I’m an agnostic theist, in some kind of no man’s land between belief and disbelief.

  • Ricky Jazzercise

    “To be ruled by ideas for which you have no evidence (and which therefore cannot be justified in conversation with other human beings) is generally a sign that something is seriously wrong with your mind.”

    I have psychic dreams all the time. I dream of things and then they happen, often years after the fact. Sometimes it’s about minutae that there is no way I could have known about by conventional means. One might consider that “evidence” that something more is going on than “mental illness”. I’m one of millions of people who have been forced to deal with this kind of thing throughout my life. The first 50 times it happened, I could dismiss it. The next 50? Well, I’m not retarded.  Now, of course, I wanted to learn why this was happening, but when you look into it, you find that science runs from it like the plague. That’s right, who’s studying this stuff? No one. It gets zero funding. I have a degree in psychology and dreams were mentioned in passing maybe once. So, clearly the best way to understanding all manner of transpersonal psychology and mysticism is by either a.) insisting that a book (one book) from 2,000 years ago has all the answers or b.) insisting the entire history of human visionary/psychic experience is meaningless, because of you know, science, and materialism. That’s why these debates are stupid.

    If all people that hear voices in their head are mentally ill, then how do people like Alan Moore and Grant Morrison contribute far more to our society than the writer of this article for example? How indeed. Also, nobody should be allowed to even participate or write an article regarding this kind of thing without studying up on and then mentioning near death experiences. Sorry. If you aren’t even going to address that, you have no business commenting on or writing about spirituality.

    • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

      but something something science, something something near death, something something chemical stuff in the brain something

    • Tuna Ghost

      Also, nobody should be allowed to even participate or write an article regarding this kind of thing without studying up on and then mentioning near death experiences. Sorry. If you aren’t even going to address that, you have no business commenting on or writing about spirituality.

      Read the questions in the article again.  The article is not about spirituality or the existence of God.  It’s about the role of religion in society and individuals, and the “whys” and “hows” regarding both those issues.  Near death experiences are not at all necessary for these topics, but if you want to take it in that direction go right ahead.  

  • Ricky Jazzercise

    “To be ruled by ideas for which you have no evidence (and which therefore cannot be justified in conversation with other human beings) is generally a sign that something is seriously wrong with your mind.”

    I have psychic dreams all the time. I dream of things and then they happen, often years after the fact. Sometimes it’s about minutae that there is no way I could have known about by conventional means. One might consider that “evidence” that something more is going on than “mental illness”. I’m one of millions of people who have been forced to deal with this kind of thing throughout my life. The first 50 times it happened, I could dismiss it. The next 50? Well, I’m not retarded.  Now, of course, I wanted to learn why this was happening, but when you look into it, you find that science runs from it like the plague. That’s right, who’s studying this stuff? No one. It gets zero funding. I have a degree in psychology and dreams were mentioned in passing maybe once. So, clearly the best way to understanding all manner of transpersonal psychology and mysticism is by either a.) insisting that a book (one book) from 2,000 years ago has all the answers or b.) insisting the entire history of human visionary/psychic experience is meaningless, because of you know, science, and materialism. That’s why these debates are stupid.

    If all people that hear voices in their head are mentally ill, then how do people like Alan Moore and Grant Morrison contribute far more to our society than the writer of this article for example? How indeed. Also, nobody should be allowed to even participate or write an article regarding this kind of thing without studying up on and then mentioning near death experiences. Sorry. If you aren’t even going to address that, you have no business commenting on or writing about spirituality.

  • Mr Willow

    I can’t speak for pre-christian europe, but it happened in africa and the middle-east loooooooong before Christianity or Yahweh made their appearance. It happened when society became organized to a degree (not long after the switch from hunting to a more agrarian lifestyle) that spiritual beliefs and rituals became codified.

    I’m sorry, I was mosttly speaking of the occidental situation, but I am honestly a little surprised by your statement that magick was separated from religion in Africa and the Middle-East before the advent of the Abrahamic faiths. 

    From what I can tell, the Mesopotamian, the ancient Persians, the Babylonians, etc. all had very rich and detailed religions before Judaism was established in the region, and Africa, at least in certain regions, has a well-established belief in magic that persists today. In all these instances, magic was integral, and in some cases essential, to their religion. It was slightly more oriented toward priestcraft or shamanism than not—so it was somewhat authoritarian in the same way 15th century Christianity was, where the priests, medicine-men, and shaman all dictated the will of the gods, the spirits, and whatnot to the rest of the community—but there was very little separation between religion and the magic used within religion, or little doubt in those practising the religion in the potency of magic. 

    Admittedly, I have never been overly interested in the spiritual traditions of the region. I have done some brief, cursory study, but nothing very in-depth, so if you would like to illuminate me, then I am always eager to learn. 

  • Mr Willow

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdNbocU6wKc

    (may need to turn the volume up)

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    Merh, I don’t want to get started on Free will, really I don’t. The evidence against free will from a scientific perspective narrows the definitions of a person, their intention, and their agency dramatically, to squish people into this simplified framework, where it can be okay to deny free will. I’m currently listening to Sam Harris’ argument, and there are many different directions that I can attack his arguments.

    The crux of his argument is free will does not exist because the experience of consciousness happens after certain brain activation. This breaks down when you take away the assumption that all agency is strictly a function of consciousness. In other words, an act that is willed does not require someone to consciously think “I am going to do this action” before doing it. Yes, these choices are made quickly, quicker than vocal consciousness, but that does not mean it is completely separate from one’s will.

    Alternatively, consciousness can be utilized to decide on a particular action in the future, which is probably its main purpose, to prepare one’s mind for an action. If unprepared, an environmentally determined automatic response(which is assumed for all cases when you do not believe in free will) will happen. I know your initial response to this idea is that consciousness is always preceded by automatic responses, so therefore even if you decide something beforehand, it was automatic. This is however just not true. Consciousness is a reflection. It is an internal monologue. The cue’s for your next conscious thought, are commonly the previous conscious thought, while the speedy instinctual thought is strictly reactive. Actually it could be seen that conscious experience is a manner in which a person can look into oneself and actually change these instinctual actions, further enacting their own agency. Will does not have to be temporally obvious.

    Now I just hope this doesn’t devolve into questions of probability, and random chance, because it just muddles the issues at hand.

    Denial of free will can be dangerous in a society in many subtle ways. Its one step closer to looking back and saying something was always bound to happen, rather than saying something just happened, and it could have been different. When you deny free will, you tend to get casualties of any will whatsoever.

  • Lucid Silverback

    Damn humans trying to put the primate in a box.

    To clarify my exposure to information, I’ve been seriously digging into UFOs, Terrence Mckenna, Graham Hancock, Bill Cooper, Jim Marrs, Jordan Maxwell, forbidden archaology, and pretty much everything in existence on the fringe subjects for thirty+ years. I’m no stranger to ideas like ancient aliens, DMT entities, secret societies, underground/water bases, psychic abilities, MK Ultra, Project Blue Beam, MJ12, Nazi UFOs, abduction, fairy lore, magic, and mythology. In fact, I’m quite the paranormal-addict, and I love it all. I was brought up in a religious household and am very familliar with the religious community yet, have also steeped myself in Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, Grayling, Dennett, Joseph Campbell, etc., and also in the myths and religions around the world and throughout history.

    It’s not like I’m saying strange things don’t happen. This universe is an amazing and mysterious place indeed. I just choose to steer my interpretations toward a rational explanation, as all things supernatural or superstitous are outside the realm of reality. For example: if someone experiences a phenomenon, I am of the opinion there is a rational explanation for that event which falls within the domain of physics and physiology. Notice how I said, I am of the opinion. Belief is a tricky word, as was pointed out in the article. Believing something without flexibility is just as -if not more- counterproductive as having too flexible a belief structure and believing all sorts of nutty stuff. This is not to say I actively debunk all phenomena outright and suggest people were hallucinating or saw swamp gas instead of a flying object or whatever. I’m open to the possibility of holograms, Nazi/US Black govt. secret projects, or even extraterrestrials. I just can’t make the leap to BELIEVE in anything when the subject is shrouded in such ambiguity and disinformation. God, angels, the devil and heaven/hell simply fall so outside the realm of probability, it isn’t worth considering. Besides, God or the devil could just alter the universal laws to confound me if I tried to figure it out, right? Even if I could sort of believe in a god, one ends up with the infinite regress into “who made god”, or where did the energy of the big bang come from in the first place if I were to believe that theory. No, I work with what’s most likely and what makes the most common sense in accordance with the laws of physics and mathmatics as we presently understand them.

    The rational mind makes its assessments in relation to possibility and probability in concert with empirical evidence. For example, I am of the opinion global climate change is happening and I lean toward the opinion mankind is most likely partly -if not primarily- responsible. That being said, if I’m presented with new evidence which contradicts my position, I change my position. In fact, the reason I say lean toward is I have recently been presented with convincing evidence the Sun is quite probably partially responsible. Unfortunately, people who believe something -and I mean really believe it- especially in cases supernatural/superstitious, are adverse to having their paradigm crumble or be seriously revamped as they possess mystical knowledge or the ultimate truth. Thus I find it ironic modern christians have latched on to the idea of teaching the controversy when they consider their own doctrines the holy word of an all powerful blood god, and above question. But I have digressed.

    Okay. To stop rambling on, and hit a couple replies…

    Anti-crowley: I think I answered you above. I don’t necessarily BELIEVE the big bang theory and in dark matter. It’s a theory and like any rudimentary theory, it has holes, and I’m sure a better one will reveal itself sooner than later.

    Sangproductions183: I sort of answered you too, but to be clear… The probability of extraterrestrial life is profound. The probability humans often misinterpret their experiences is also profound. It is much more challenging to wrack one’s brain seeking a rational physical/physiological understanding than taking the short cut to simplistic mystical or magical thinking. Regarding witness accounts, I do not dismiss them whatsoever. I do diminish the facthood of their individual conclusions though. Only through the exhaustive study of a body of experience and information can one hope to approach an understanding.

    Tuna G: I agree supernatural is a cop-out: a cop-out from determining the real reason behind a particular phenomenon. If it’s supernatural then it is beyond nature’s laws and cannot be understood scientifically. Other than select mormons, the scientologists, and maybe some jehova’s witnesses, I think you’d be hard pressed to find “believers” who fit your description. And regarding religion’s popularity, I expect it has something to do with the sense of purpose or inflated potential, and the sense of “the flock” which accompanies religious dogmas. No one likes to acknowledge the meaninglessness of it all, or feel all alone in life’s precarious struggle to survive. Religion’s antiquated myths and dogmas solve both those problems by providing two things in particular: meaning and community.

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    but something something science, something something near death, something something chemical stuff in the brain something

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    “The newsroom is no place for a woman and That is a scientific FACT!”

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    You are my favorite theist.

  • Vexed.

    I believe My Parents Created me so… There Goes Creation out the window, I believe The Big Bang/Evolution is also crap because if there was nothing at all before the Big Bang (Nothing I Mean NOTHING!) Then where the Hell did the supposed two atoms come from that Allegedly Banged together to create matter? If supposedly there was no matter or anything at all, Hmmmm? Both arguments are null and are not able to be proved at all, at any point in time… In which would be an eternal argument to come forever more further Annoying everyone. Both sides are so sure and full of themselves. You will witness it for eternity Because everybody Knows everything apparently. Monkeys are still Monkeys in 2011. And organisms in mud puddles are too! Millions and Billions and Kazillions years later… There they are, still monkeys and organisms doing the same thing, There is no time! Time is something we created to organize the world. We always have been What we are!

  • Vexed.

    I believe My Parents Created me so… There Goes Creation out the window, I believe The Big Bang/Evolution is also crap because if there was nothing at all before the Big Bang (Nothing I Mean NOTHING!) Then where the Hell did the supposed two atoms come from that Allegedly Banged together to create matter? If supposedly there was no matter or anything at all, Hmmmm? Both arguments are null and are not able to be proved at all, at any point in time… In which would be an eternal argument to come forever more further Annoying everyone. Both sides are so sure and full of themselves. You will witness it for eternity Because everybody Knows everything apparently. Monkeys are still Monkeys in 2011. And organisms in mud puddles are too! Millions and Billions and Kazillions years later… There they are, still monkeys and organisms doing the same thing, There is no time! Time is something we created to organize the world. We always have been What we are!

    • Anarchy Pony

      “Monkeys are still Monkeys in 2011. And organisms in mud puddles are too! Millions and Billions and Kazillions years later… There they are, still monkeys and organisms doing the same thing”
      That’s because evolution is not a ladder to climb or role playing game in which you level up, These morphologies still exist because they can still provide a reliable way in which an organism can survive and reproduce, maybe others split off from them and become something else, or maybe any deviation is actually harmful, so they are still the same. That toxic view of evolution comes from the myth of progress in which things are always getting better or more complicated.

    • anti-crowley

      So your views on how everything started?  You have two choices, either something has existed for eternity, or it came from nothing…no other options.  Once you pick one of those two, you now meet the criteria for your own genocidal comment.  Will you kill yourself or should I do the honors?

      • Vexed.

        Wow what a _____ I just ended my Point with this  “There is no time! Time is something we created to organize the world. We always have been What we are!”   if you somehow were not able to read it, Like I said Arguments perpetuated by the two annoy everybody and you are just trying to lure me into an argument,And Im not going to have arguments with you people. You know that the Mason knows that there is no time… There is no Creation point and there is no Evolution Nor Time For that “Matter” Kill Myself or You Kill me? That is never going to Happen. You are nowhere near Realistic and maybe you shouldn’t be allowed to exist in others REALITY.

        • anti-crowley

          Time has various definitions unless framed within a particular framework.  I am referring not to astronomical events such as sunset or seasons, nor entropy.  I refer to the time definition of cause bringing about an effect.  In order to have an effect, the cause must have contained the information for the effect within it.  The existence of matter contains this.  If you have matter, you have material cause and effect.  Even within quantum function.  You also believe in eternal existence with no creation correct?  Bottom line is you have not thought your belief in this area through to its logical conclusion.  If you go back far enough in your view, either something caused something else without having the information to do so, or all current information has always existed…an infinite amount of time in the past, which we cannot comprehend.  So your entire argument rests on an incomprehensible premise, yet you call the rest of us illogical?

      • Vexed.

        So Yeah if you have any type of skills that involve reading carefully, You would have noticed That I do not believe that anything “Started” and that I made it clear that I believe that we always were and always have been. I Cannot believe That I have to clarify something that I already said… 
        And time did not exist until we created and utilized it. So When did time begin? When we started to use time to measure and organize the world, and this right here calls for the name calling. So how much “time” went by before we created it? And thanks for insinuating that Im some “Nazi” Hell bent on Genocide! Really awesome tactic to get people to look at my comment negatively, because you see my point of view as a Threat to one of the “Two” that YOU endorse or believe in. “Genocidal” lol Hahahahaha!!! Oh by the way I am not arguing, But Rather clarifying what you seem to have looked over as my point was clear enough. I am not confused! But you seem to be the only one confused or in a state of concluding me and Writing me off quickly.

    • Tuna Ghost

      So the fossil record has always just been fossils in the dirt, is what you’re saying?

  • Vexed.

    You know what needs to be cleaned up? Creationists and Atheists. They Have to be cleaned up off the surface of the earth. You Know so we can be free of people Bickering and Arguing with each other? Yeah that type of a world would be more of the Kind that moves forward! Or you can stay in the past, obsessed with it.

  • Vexed.

    You know what needs to be cleaned up? Creationists and Atheists. They Have to be cleaned up off the surface of the earth. You Know so we can be free of people Bickering and Arguing with each other? Yeah that type of a world would be more of the Kind that moves forward! Or you can stay in the past, obsessed with it.

    • Andrew

      Nothing like genocide to bring about peace, eh?

  • Vexed.

    Creationists and Atheists have made a Mess of the Worlds Logic. Belligerent and Militant Know it all’s Taking away our Clear view of the world as it is! Thanks for making this world a Greatly annoying place to be…

  • Vexed.

    Creationists and Atheists have made a Mess of the Worlds Logic. Belligerent and Militant Know it all’s Taking away our Clear view of the world as it is! Thanks for making this world a Greatly annoying place to be…

    • anti-crowley

      Yes, stupid creationists and atheists, leave it to the…..who else is there?   Ah yes, the agnostics and undecideds!

      • Mr Willow

        And animists and monists and polytheists and pantheists and occultists and esotericists. . . 

        • anti-crowley

          So they don’t believe in creation or non-creation…Mr Willow all of those were covered, you wrongly assumed a creationist is just the Abrahamic religions.

          • Mr Willow

            If you mean the Initial Creation. . . most occultists, and some pantheists, don’t concern themselves with it that much.

          • anti-crowley

            Most occultists are too busy doing things like circle jerking into a coffin, TUBALCAIN!!

          • TennesseeCyberian

            Look, man, everybody appreciates your counterpoints (right?), but the whole purpose of this thread is to have a civil discussion.  The only people circle-jerking into a coffin are behind a keyboard–in a figurative sense, anyway.

          • anti-crowley

            My sincerest apologies JJD, I tend to assume others have a thick skin when sometimes they do not.  I also seem to be unique in the expectation that in this subject, to expect others to leave strong emotional response out of it seems disingenuous.  I prefer to hear peoples true feelings, even if they are that of anger.  I have no time for false pleasantries.  The PC approach tends to end up in the extreme left end of the spectrum.  That last comment of mine was a cheap joke, I will refrain from those in the future.  I really do appreciate the calm and mature rebuke.

  • emperorreagan

    1.

    It’s hard to trace the much more recent separation of magic
    from science.  Isaac Newton, as a popular
    example, was a practicing alchemist and may have considered himself foremost an
    alchemist, not a scientist.  I think such
    delineations exist primarily to serve a cultural narrative and aren’t
    particularly meaningful.  I think there’s
    a period of time over which a culture grows progressively more scornful of an
    old idea and people who continue to hold to the old practices do so in secret.  At some later date, when people are writing
    history books, they pick a point in time during the transition to cite when
    their culture became more advanced.

    2.

    Emile Durkheim made a fairly compelling argument about
    religion being an expression of society and an element of social cohesion.  I think it’s a particularly interesting idea
    to entertain when thinking about American society and it’s something that has
    been written about extensively by sociologists – various things in the secular
    world have been taking on the roles of what’s considered sacred and profane as
    well as moral, ethical, and other considerations.  You can see it with the way people react to
    flag burnings, for example.  For many
    people, the US flag is a sacred object and burning it is a sin.  Likewise, you can see the near deification of
    various public figures, like the American founding fathers.

    So it’s a fairly complicated question to answer.  There’s a broad social religion that serves
    the role of social cohesion.  Many
    elements of this broad religion are fairly ambiguous – that’s why both atheists
    and theists might celebrate the constitution and are able to find what they
    want to read into it there.    

    There’s a local level, too, which has more specific
    religious traditions – Christianity, for example, is culturally conservative
    where the local community is culturally conservative and it’s pretty liberal
    where the local community is liberal. 

    And at the individual level, it’s of course an individual
    question. 

    3.

    I think typically the people who point at religion as a
    crutch don’t look at the dominant myths of the culture in which they live, which
    provide much of the same framework; the dominant cultural myths answer many of
    the same questions and provide a set of expected behaviors & beliefs.

    Religion may provide additional definitive answers, demands,
    and expectations, but to the extent that any one of them might be considered a
    crutch depends on the psychological makeup of the individual.  Some people are happy with “I don’t know” and
    entertaining dozens of ideas.  Some
    people want certainty.  To the extent
    that someone wants certainty and doesn’t want to entertain possibilities, then
    maybe something is a crutch.

    4.    

    My answer goes back to #2. 
    There are various levels and there is interplay among them.  I’ll edit later to expound on this.

    5.

    It depends on the definition you choose.  According to Oxford’s English dictionary:

    Faith (n) –

    a.      
    Complete trust or confidence in someone or
    something.

    b.      
    Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a
    religion, based on a spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

    By definition a, I say yes. 
    By definition b, I say no.  I
    think atheism does assert a fundamental philosophical doctrine as being the
    correct one.  I don’t think non-belief in
    a deity is the same as belief in a deity.

    6.

    Faith (definition 1) is essential to human society.  Faith is intrinsic to the entire system of
    fiat currency, for instance.  I think one
    of the biggest differences between faith in a deity and faith in other social
    structures is that the west is becoming more secular, so it’s ok to treat faith
    in a deity as crazy.  But to tell someone
    having faith in technology’s ability to stave off ecological crises is crazy is
    not acceptable and the people who make those pronouncements are marginalized.

  • emperorreagan

    1.
    It’s hard to trace the much more recent separation of magic from science.  Isaac Newton, as a popular example, was a practicing alchemist and may have considered himself foremost an alchemist, not a scientist.  I think such delineations exist primarily to serve a cultural narrative and aren’t particularly meaningful.  I think there’s a period of time over which a culture grows progressively more scornful of an old idea and people who continue to hold to the old practices do so in secret.  At some later date, when people are writing history books, they pick a point in time during the transition to cite when their culture became more advanced.

    2.
    Emile Durkheim made a fairly compelling argument about religion being an expression of society and an element of social cohesion.  I think it’s a particularly interesting idea to entertain when thinking about American society and it’s something that has been written about extensively by sociologists – various things in the secular world have been taking on the roles of what’s considered sacred and profane as well as moral, ethical, and other considerations.  You can see it with the way people react to flag burnings, for example.  For many people, the US flag is a sacred object and burning it is a sin.  Likewise, you can see the near deification of various public figures, like the American founding fathers.

    So it’s a fairly complicated question to answer.  There’s a broad social religion that serves the role of social cohesion.  Many elements of this broad religion are fairly ambiguous – that’s why both atheists and theists might celebrate the constitution and are able to find what they want to read into it there.    

    There’s a local level, too, which has more specific religious traditions – Christianity, for example, is culturally conservative where the local community is culturally conservative and it’s pretty liberal where the local community is liberal. 

    And at the individual level, it’s of course an individual question. 

    3.
    I think typically the people who point at religion as a crutch don’t look at the dominant myths of the culture in which they live, which provide much of the same framework; the dominant cultural myths answer many of
    the same questions and provide a set of expected behaviors & beliefs.

    Religion may provide additional definitive answers, demands, and expectations, but to the extent that any one of them might be considered a crutch depends on the psychological makeup of the individual.  Some people are happy with “I don’t know” and entertaining dozens of ideas.  Some people want certainty.  To the extent
    that someone wants certainty and doesn’t want to entertain possibilities, then maybe something is a crutch.

    4.    
    My answer goes back to #2. 
    There are various levels and there is interplay among them.  I’ll edit later to expound on this.

    Later:
    In the broadest sense of religion as the dominant cultural mythology, then I would say yes, it does play a role in violence and morality. One of the features of American society, for example, is a celebration of the military and the nation’s combat prowess. It trickles down every place, from using military jargon playing sports, to little old ladies praying to support the troops, to movies with heros that are little more than murderous psycopaths if you imagine yourself as the indian to John Wayne’s cowboy. I’m convcined that this broad social narrative, among several, is a huge reason the the United States is home to more violent crime than similarly wealthy nations.
    The smaller cultural enclaves represented by specific religious cultures play a role, too, both amending the broader narrative with local values and attempting to sway the broader narrative closer towards their view point.
    At the broadest level of state violence, though, I think it’s a mistake to attribute too much to religion. Certainly, leaders will couch their speeches in the language of the dominant cultural mythos, whether that’s 72 virgins or over-the-top nationalism. I think it’s seldom the root cause, though. There are too many reasons that make much more sense for most conflicts – occupying armies, competing for resources, controlling territory, exacting revenge, etc. – to pick religion as the dominant motivating factor (though it is easier to motivate a culture that celebrates militarism to participate in such nonsense).
    Likewise, many issues of morality remain taboo regardless of the dominant narrative because everyone recognizes them as being counter to social cohesion. No culture or religion is going to look favorably on murder, for example.

    5.
    It depends on the definition you choose.  According to Oxford’s English dictionary:
    a. Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
    b. Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on a spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

    By definition a, I say yes. By definition b, I say no.  I think atheism does assert a fundamental philosophical doctrine as being the correct one.  I don’t think non-belief in a deity is the same as belief in a deity.

    6.
    Faith (definition 1) is essential to human society.  Faith is intrinsic to the entire system of fiat currency, for instance.  I think one of the biggest differences between faith in a deity and faith in other social structures is that the west is becoming more secular, so it’s ok to treat faith in a deity as crazy.  But to tell someone
    having faith in technology’s ability to stave off ecological crises is crazy is not acceptable and the people who make those pronouncements are marginalized.

    • emperorreagan

      And I do realize I almost completely ignored the issue of the existence of deity.

      I think that’s a “can’t see the forest for the trees” issue.  The fundamental issue isn’t whether god exists, it’s about the structure and constraints people feel in society.

      • Tuna Ghost

        my god, someone actually addressed the questions I raised, I sort of want to kiss you right now.  

        The existence of God is, to my mind, secondary to all the other questions I’ve presented.  But my own religion doesn’t require the objective existence of a god to function, so I may be playing a different game.

        I have a lot to say about your responses, (for instance, the line about no religion looking favorably on murder–there are actually more than one that not only look favorably on it but advocate it) but I’m pressed for time.  Will get back to it later.    

        • emperorreagan

          I’ll go ahead and preemptively comment that I would consider generic killing and murder two different things.

          Murder is something that you do to a member of your social group in good standing.  Killing is what you do to people outside of your social group. Perhaps my terminology is off – I’ve been reading urban fantasy instead of exploring the sociology and anthropology that captured my interest when I was in grad school (for engineering).
          The former typically receives stiff sanction.  The latter may receive anywhere from social sanction to outright praise.  

          You can think of different ways this plays out in a society: for instance, many people are all about the death penalty and praise guys like Governor Perry for signing death warrants.  Killing is the sanction levied for murder; or, alternately, killing is an acceptable means of maintaining social order, while murdering is not acceptable within that social order.

          A neo-nazi killing a black man might be viewed as something to be praised in his organization.  Even at a step broader level of a state, it might be passed off depending on the biases of the region.  At the national level, though, perhaps the FBI labels this as a murder and pursues the investigation.

          A pilot may negligently bomb a wedding party in Afghanistan and the military may happily write it off as no wrongdoing.  If a pilot on a training run in the US negligently strafed a wedding party, it would be treated entirely differently.

          A Christian fundamentalist may kill an abortion doctor. To his fundamentalist community, he is a hero bringing judgement to a murderer. To the rest of the society, he’s a murderous psychopath destroying the life of an innocent person.

          The viewpoint that there is no “other” that could ever be deserving of killing, and that all killing is murder is a fairly marginalized opinion.

  • J03

    What actions can a person take that are not in accordance with their experience, capability and fundamental nature?

    Will is integral to consciousness.  An exercise of pre-consciousness is not an act of will.  Without consciousness I cannot make a conscious willful decision.  A pre-conscious decision can not be a willful decision.  I can be creative and defiant without free-will because consciousness exists independently of some imagined freedom.  My experience, capability and fundamental nature lead me to consciously and willfully act defiantly and creatively.  My experience, capability and fundamental nature lead me to make conscious, willful decisions.

    If I took an action that was not shaped by my experience, capability and fundamental nature, it could not possibly qualify as a *conscious* decision.

    If you relegate free-will to pre-consciousness then people cannot “decide their fate”.  Their fate is decided before they are consciously aware of what is happening.

    namaste

  • Vexed.

    Hallucinations in an Indifferent Place, but Beautiful…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShFer_hFZxs&feature=related

  • Vexed.

    Hallucinations in an Indifferent Place, but Beautiful…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShFer_hFZxs&feature=related

  • Andrew

    Nothing like genocide to bring about peace, eh?

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    Your viewpoints seem to work out if you think the mind is just another item that can be analyzed through strict reductionism. You’ll never agree with me from that perspective, but you have to take the mind from a holistic viewpoint. In this sense no, consciousness is not independent from “imagined” freedom, no more than it is independent from pre-conscious decisions. There is no distinction between the preconscious and conscious. They are integral to each other, that’s why you very rarely will disagree with pre-consciousness because consciousness is just the echo chamber that you reflect on the actions you already decided on(faster than you can think in language).

    Of course your actions are shaped by your environment/experience etc. But that in no way qualifies that it is the ONLY thing that shapes your mind. Reflection lets you shape your own viewpoints, shuffle things around, decide somethings are more valuable, and less valuable to believe in. Everyone does this, and noone interacts with their own mind, and certain ideas in the same precise way.

    In any case, when people stop believing in free will, you’ll start hearing things like “its not my fault, my brain did it” to which I ask, where does the person stop, and the brain begin

  • Mysophobe

    “Aleister Crowley is a craven, godless, homosexual pervert with a sinister agenda who is after your children’s souls!”

    Sounds familiar. Still terrifying folks like you from beyond the grave. He’d be delighted, I know I sure am.

  • Wanooski

    dahmer also killed and ate the underage males he had sex with. That seems a might worse.

  • Wanooski

    Head off your foes with a balanced attack. 
    Sorry, old force of habit.

  • Wanooski

    Uh, it’s far more likely that Israel is going to do the attacking. What with all the offensive weapons they have been accumulating lately. 

  • Wanooski

    “Monkeys are still Monkeys in 2011. And organisms in mud puddles are too! Millions and Billions and Kazillions years later… There they are, still monkeys and organisms doing the same thing”
    That’s because evolution is not a ladder to climb or role playing game in which you level up, These morphologies still exist because they can still provide a reliable way in which an organism can survive and reproduce, maybe others split off from them and become something else, or maybe any deviation is actually harmful, so they are still the same. That toxic view of evolution comes from the myth of progress in which things are always getting better or more complicated.

  • humding

    The burden of proof is on the “believer”. End of story. 

    • anti-crowley

      Not a matter of “proof” its a matter of whether something is reality or not, which is not effected by our opinions.  Proof required for you to accept something is all a personal decision, that is the end of the story.

  • humding

    The burden of proof is on the “believer”. End of story. 

  • anti-crowley

    I will go ahead and judge him for having sex with a 16 or 17 year old (and much younger) it’s called rape.  Wonder what his definition of THAT was.  I compare them because they are both morally depraved and degenerate, which I thought was apparent in my comment.

  • anti-crowley

    I will go ahead and judge him for having sex with a 16 or 17 year old (and much younger) it’s called rape.  Wonder what his definition of THAT was.  I compare them because they are both morally depraved and degenerate, which I thought was apparent in my comment.

  • JJC

    http://www.philoscience.unibe.ch/documents/kursarchiv/WS06/bok.pdf 
    Check out Hillary Bok’s take on the question of free will. Her contention is that free will is a practical epistemological necessity. For example, theoretically it is possible to know the future and thus know the result of the processes that make someone take a certain course of action, however it is practically impossible to do this because if one knew the action that would be taken they could potentially change it. Thus devolving into a feedback loop where information about the future changes the future. Its an informative compatabilist argument that doesn’t take the usual compatabilist wishy washy tact. 

  • emperorreagan
  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    GRARGH! Obligatory outrage! You’re an expletive!

  • anti-crowley

    Matt, you sound like any other belief system except Christian.  God examine what makes someone a Christian.  I believe a God powerful enough to create the universe can handle ensuring that his message to mankind is preserved.  We also have Polycarp, Clement of Rome, Ignateous, Ireneous, Origins, Eusebeus and about 7,000 manuscripts and papyri to confirm that the Translations are correct.  We also have tens of thousands of scholars around the world studying every jot and tittle of those manuscripts in all available languages.  Your ignorant statement about the translations and such is a typical statement made by those who have ZERO knowledge of all the work that I have mentioned.  BTW, we also have a healthy amount of information from Romans and Helenistic Jews of the time such as Josephus Flavius and Philo Judaeus of Alexandria confirming much of the New Testament.

    I choose to place my belief in the one true God because I see prophecy concerning Israel written in 6th  century BC being fullfilled.  Not only in Israel becoming a nation after over 2,500 years of being dispersed throughout the world.  But right down to the enemies that are now rising up against it and it being a “cup of trembling to all the nations”.  I also see the first 3 seal judgments of Revelation (3 of the 4 horsemen) of world governance (seals 1 & 2) and world economic collapse through super inflation (3rd horseman.)  Pretty accurate prophecy for someone 2,000 years ago.  I’m sure he got lucky though, I shouldn’t trust his writings?  You need to do some serious thinking about whether or not you actually believe in Christ brother, looking at the world today, time is just about up.

  • anti-crowley

    Gradient’s comment should be a red flag to you Matt.

  • anti-crowley

    Ezekiel 38 is the Gog Magog account.  Based on Christs eschatology in Luke 21 and the parallel passages we know that the generation that saw Israel brought back into existence in 1947 will not pass away until the great tribulation begins.  I come up with the next year for several reasons, mainly the Arab spring started by Russian and Iran in Egypt, Libya and Syria.  30 years of stable boarders becoming unstable, Palestine putting a bid in with the UN security counsel for statehood recognition.  Finally the fact that all the New Agers and ecumenicals believe winter solstice 2012 is the start of the new age (sun rising into Ouroboros’s head ect.)  They all are primed a waiting to accept a false messiah and one world religion.  I’ll stop there. 

  • Anonymous

    At long last, we are graced with your presence. Welcome. 

    Did he do those things -really? Who knows what he did? Were you there? I think not. If he did do those things and you get your way he’s already burnin’ in the lake o’ fire any way. So why kick a dead man? Anger and wrath were among the “deadly sins” weren’t they? You may get to join him -Mr. Brimstone.

    Abandon hope ye who enter here!

  • anti-crowley

    I recant all statements about Crowley, he is the base for which we should place all morality.  I have seen the light and suddenly all of crowley’s rants seem like they will fix this world’s problems…how did I not see this before?   Whether or not you want him babysitting for you..go ahead tuna.

  • anti-crowley

    Gradient got my joke.

  • anti-crowley

    Gradient got my joke.

  • anti-crowley

    Gradient got my joke.

  • Ixtasis
  • anti-crowley

    Nobody is reallly terrified of him, we just see him as a pathetic, depraved sexually deviant drug addict (which is what he was.)  He was great at convincing youth of his radical views, congrats AC.  I’m as terrified of him as I am of Colligula.

  • anti-crowley

    Nobody is reallly terrified of him, we just see him as a pathetic, depraved sexually deviant drug addict (which is what he was.)  He was great at convincing youth of his radical views, congrats AC.  I’m as terrified of him as I am of Colligula.

  • anti-crowley

    HEY Tuna, I expect that attitude from these others or perhaps myself, but you must rise above…its your article here specifically about not lowering yourself to this level.  Leave the mudslinging to us who have no standards in logical argument.  I’m simply testing to see how many people could read your article, then immediately cease to resist the temptation to sling mud at me.  So far, I win.  Go write another love letter to Crowley while you put on your black lipstick…perhaps re-watch the Twilight trilogy and cut yourself, that should help you release….its what crowley would have wanted.

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps every new thought or idea is an altered state….

  • anti-crowley

    The reason it would have to be rebuilt is because it exists during the last days, I am well aware of the second temple period and the siege of Jerusalem and destruction of the temple in 70 AD, as is the entire Jewish and Christian community, thanks for reminding me though.  As far as the silly prophecies, they predicted one world economy, Israel’s existence despite being surrounded by nations bent on their destruction.  BTW find another nation that has been dispersed for more than 500 years, then returned to their original land while maintaining their identity.  The Jews did is for 2500 years.  As well as complete global economic super-inflation (coming soon) as well as extreme weather, specifically earthquakes in diverse places and increasing in intensity and frequency.  I will amend my statement of “proof” and change it to evidence. 

  • anti-crowley

    Yes, stupid creationists and atheists, leave it to the…..who else is there?   Ah yes, the agnostics and undecideds!

  • anti-crowley

    Unless God is real, then he is the basis for reality.  In order to have true reality, one must have all information on the state of all things at the exact same time, hence only a God with that ability can contain reality.  If we don’t match that reality then what we experience is not reality, just our perception of it.  Reality/truth are not subjective, they just are…whether we are on board with it or not.  Good post GDB.

  • anti-crowley

    Dante, good quote.  I say that crowley didn’t actually write those things, I think through the years his work has been corrupted, perhaps he didn’t even really exist.  After all, why should the Bible be the only work these arguments are used against?  BTW, I’m not getting my way, I had nothing to do with the creation of hell or whether or not crowley is there.  If crowley is in hell it is soley because he willingly chose to exist separate from God, he got what he wanted.

  • anti-crowley

    Don’t judge Jersey Shore, they are just “doing as they whilt!”

  • anti-crowley

    Not a matter of “proof” its a matter of whether something is reality or not, which is not effected by our opinions.  Proof required for you to accept something is all a personal decision, that is the end of the story.

  • TheYawningPreterist

    So I take it you did not even bother clicking on the link about Preterism? Typical fundie…can’t pull your head out of your own ass for two seconds to try and see the world from an alternative perspective. 

    Besides, all of the so-called “prophecies” in the Bible could easily be explained away as having been self-fulfilled. Israel could have just as easily set up shop in Canada or here in the states…they chose to invade and occupy Palestine…their choice. There are alternate realities where they did set up shop in alternate locations…just think about how much more calm/peaceful/rational those worlds must be! We are simply unlucky enough to live in one where a bunch of self-righteous Zionists with delusions of grandeur – backed by apocalyptic-crazed fundamentalists – decided to “fulfill” a prophecy.    But just for fun – assuming the Preterists are right and all of the end-times prophecies have already been fulfilled – why is that such a bitter pill for you to swallow? I have a theory: all of you fundies get off on the apocalypse and if you stop focusing on it for even a moment, you lose your spiritual hard-on. I just wish you would keep your sick, twisted, and immoral fantasies to yourselves…whatever it takes to get you off, fine…but please leave the rest of us out of it, thanks.  

  • anti-crowley

     BTW, the “deadly sins” is Catholic dogma.  All sins are deadly in the fact that they separate you from God.  Actually the Bible says to be angry and sin not.  God many times in the Bible gets angry and wrathful.  Catholicism may be popular, but I would say is absent of any credibility, I’m sure you would agree with that.

  • TheYawningPreterist

    PS: As far as your “evidence” is concerned, we still don’t have a one-world economy, though personally I think it is a great idea. And in a Multiverse of infinite alternate realities, there will be some in which a one-world economy evolves and some in which it does not…its existence (or non-existence) will not be proof of anything except for what it is (or is not…) 

    Also, claiming earthquakes as evidence? Really?? How much would you like to bet, that in a hundred years from now when Jebus still has not returned and there are even more earthquakes than there are now, that there will still be frothing fundies like you prattling on about said quakes still being “proof” of something other than the fact that the earth’s crust shifts and moves from time to time, without any thought whatsoever as to the poo-flinging apes who just happen to inhabit its surface?

    I will leave you with this lyric, one of my all-time favorites, in the hopes that one day it might “click” for you on some level or other: “I’ve changed my mind, that’s what it’s there for…” – Jhonn Balance   

  • TheYawningPreterist

    PS: As far as your “evidence” is concerned, we still don’t have a one-world economy, though personally I think it is a great idea. And in a Multiverse of infinite alternate realities, there will be some in which a one-world economy evolves and some in which it does not…its existence (or non-existence) will not be proof of anything except for what it is (or is not…) 

    Also, claiming earthquakes as evidence? Really?? How much would you like to bet, that in a hundred years from now when Jebus still has not returned and there are even more earthquakes than there are now, that there will still be frothing fundies like you prattling on about said quakes still being “proof” of something other than the fact that the earth’s crust shifts and moves from time to time, without any thought whatsoever as to the poo-flinging apes who just happen to inhabit its surface?

    I will leave you with this lyric, one of my all-time favorites, in the hopes that one day it might “click” for you on some level or other: “I’ve changed my mind, that’s what it’s there for…” – Jhonn Balance   

  • anti-crowley

    And your proof of these alternate realities?  I agree, you should be the only one allowed to share you sick, twisted and immoral fantasies with everyone and you should be able to do it in all zillion of your realities.  The rest of us need to just shut up and let you have your way, good point.

  • anti-crowley

    Not a one world economy!?  Someone has been living under a rock for the last 3 years.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1455288665 Deva O’Donnell

    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him God?”
    – Epicurus 

    • anti-crowley

      The presence of evil gives rise to free will, therefore is necessary.
      Free will comes with the consequences of our actions, which effect those around us.
      You assume bad things should not happen to us, as if we are too righteous for it, which is arrogant.

      • supervexi

        I wonder about this very question sometimes. 

        On the face of it, the argument that evil exists seems a strong one against a good and all-powerful god.  But then, when I think about ultimate reasons, I wonder why such a god would have created us.  To be good little automatons running around stroking his ego through worship all day?  Well that seems rather petty.  I have a possible theory and it hinges on this:  Supposedly we have been given choice, but choice requires options. 

        If we were created by an all-powerful lone god, it seems to me that he would be, or at least dictate, what is moral or not.  Simply, acting in accordance with his wishes would be ‘good’, and against them, ‘evil’.  For us to have any meaningful choice, we must be able to choose to act against his wishes, or in a manner that we can call evil or wicked.

        The Epicurean poem above, supposes that for a god to be good, he must desire to stamp out evil, and that this priority must trump any others.  What if, instead, we supposed that this all-powerful god had a specific agenda when creating human-kind, other that little worship-robots?  Perhaps the human race is an unfinished creation, and somehow the experience of a life lived with viable options to act ‘good’ or ‘evil’, somehow is finishing that creation?  Imagine pottery for a moment.  The clay is shaped into its final form, yet the creation is not complete.  It must go into the kiln be fired first.  Perhaps this existence on Earth is our kiln.  Perhaps that is the agenda, and it is a higher priority than having the clay be comfy and coddled all the time.

        What would the ultimate goal or purpose for all this be?  I am not sure, but I imagine that having a bunch of souls around that have lived, learned, fallen, and gotten back up would be slightly more interesting company for the all-powerful god in eternity than those of the worship-bots who were incapable of making mistakes.

        • anti-crowley

          Now that is a post that makes my time here worth it.  NO GDB or TG its not just because he leans towards my views, though it helps.  More because he describes what true Christianity believes, not some caricature of Christianity (the straw man that I always bring up) that people love to attack.  I hope supervexi becomes a regular around these parts.  

          • supervexi

            Thanks for the feedback and support, anti-crowley.  I’ve followed this thread and a few in the past where you were rather prolific, and I must say, I find the position you place yourself in quite interesting.  It becomes clear in some of your postings that you are rather well educated, or at least well read.  You seem to have a firm grasp (from some other of your postings) or logic, rhetoric, and debate. And yet, you seem to almost set yourself up as the straw man your opponents wish you to be, pandering to their demagoguery.  I suppose that one can only take you at your word that you simply have no patience for political correctness or niceties in these debates and are intentionally provocative in order to cut to the heart of deeply held beliefs.  In any case, you certainly keep the discussion around here lively!

            As to the caricature you mention, I believe that you have hit the proverbial nail on its head.  However, I would go three steps further.  It seems to me that most or all of the ‘establishment’ religions are painted with the same broad (cartoonish) brush.  Secondly, it appears to me that many people (especially of the intelligentsia) are actually operating under the assumption that their caricature of some dude with a white beard zipping around on a cloud throwing lightning bolts (or whatever) is actually a fair and accurate description of these religions.  And thirdly, that therefore, anyone who really subscribes to and believes in these religions must be some sort of mentally stunted intellectual juvenile.  After all, most children stop believing in Santa and the tooth fairy around the age of 5!

            Ultimately I think that this unjust and patronizing attitude usually reflects ignorance or at least intellectual laziness.  And this is just the sort of thing that (it seems to me) the OP was attempting to address with the original post.  There is a wealth of intellectual heritage to be found in any of the ‘establishment’ religions, and many very smart people have genuinely believed.

            So here’s hoping that this discussion continues and that, perhaps, at least for the participants, some new intellectual ground can be tread!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1455288665 Deva O’Donnell

    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him God?”
    – Epicurus 

  • Anonymous

    Well, here we have my discomfort with using the word “God” -cropping up. I assure you my beef is not with God per say. It’s that word. A word with so much garbage poured on it, I just don’t know what the hell people are talking about when they throw that word around or how they will interpret it when and if I use it.

    “In order to have true reality, one must have all information on the state of all things at the exact same time…”

    The truth is I have no idea about anything about whether God exists if I have no experience of “him” or it.  As I know not The Dude personally…then again perhaps I see his mark every day and pass it by for some reason. Alas I do not know.

    The truth is an abyss I will not fathom in totality any time soon, which ironically is a parallel to the understanding of “God” as I’ve heard. Perhaps God is just the sum-total of everything I don’t understand, metaphorically and literally.

    I’m sure that something interesting is going on. Details to be revealed at a later date I suspect… 

     

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1455288665 Deva O’Donnell

    It is possible to incorporate the modalities of a specific religion into your life without actively believing in the religion. I too am an adherent to the style of Hermes, but I don’t for a moment believe that he is or was a real breathing entity. More a fictional personification of specific human qualities which I wish to emulate.

    I think the key here is anthropomorphizing. Humans like patterns. When no pattern is discernible, we will hallucinate one in the static. When we find a pattern, real or imagined we tend to try and put a human face to it. The root of the major religions, is most likely a misunderstanding of early farming technology which found patterns in the stars which we call constellations and figured out that when the constellations are in a certain arrangement in the sky, that is when we sow, and when the pattern shifts just so, that is the best time to harvest. Then the shamans took this predictive farming technology and wowed their people with their incredible ability to predict the future. Then of course, the priesthoods, recognized the power of belief to control the masses and just made up all kinds of crazy stories to keep people guessing for centuries.

    • Tuna Ghost

      It is possible to incorporate the modalities of a specific religion into your life without actively believing in the religion. 

      I was just saying this to a friend earlier today.  He’s an ardent atheist who cannot move beyond the “God doesn’t exist!” portion of the discussion.  He’s as unwilling to change his conception of religion as any fundementalist.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1455288665 Deva O’Donnell

    It is possible to incorporate the modalities of a specific religion into your life without actively believing in the religion. I too am an adherent to the style of Hermes, but I don’t for a moment believe that he is or was a real breathing entity. More a fictional personification of specific human qualities which I wish to emulate.

    I think the key here is anthropomorphizing. Humans like patterns. When no pattern is discernible, we will hallucinate one in the static. When we find a pattern, real or imagined we tend to try and put a human face to it. The root of the major religions, is most likely a misunderstanding of early farming technology which found patterns in the stars which we call constellations and figured out that when the constellations are in a certain arrangement in the sky, that is when we sow, and when the pattern shifts just so, that is the best time to harvest. Then the shamans took this predictive farming technology and wowed their people with their incredible ability to predict the future. Then of course, the priesthoods, recognized the power of belief to control the masses and just made up all kinds of crazy stories to keep people guessing for centuries.

  • Gail Trefonas

    There is no debate, as far as I’m concerned….I know there is God, he is there for me at all times, answers my prayers, has been by my side the the worst of times, and has kept me here even when I didn’t want to be….Miracles, that have happened in my family that even Doctors could not explain…No, I felt for a long time it was hard to believe until, something very hard to explain happened to me personally…I only hope that people like I, will have this wonderful knowledge come to them…It will, I believe, if they are open to it, for I was not a person that ever deserved it, for sure…But…Thank God it did, and I will forever be grateful and now the last to EVER question..

    • Tuna Ghost

      Okay, now what role would you say your religion plays in your life?  What does it do?  Do you believe your religion is the basis for your morality?  For ALL morality?  Should it be?  Where do you see religion intersecting with other parts of society, for instance government?  Where should it intersect?

  • Gail Trefonas

    There is no debate, as far as I’m concerned….I know there is God, he is there for me at all times, answers my prayers, has been by my side the the worst of times, and has kept me here even when I didn’t want to be….Miracles, that have happened in my family that even Doctors could not explain…No, I felt for a long time it was hard to believe until, something very hard to explain happened to me personally…I only hope that people like I, will have this wonderful knowledge come to them…It will, I believe, if they are open to it, for I was not a person that ever deserved it, for sure…But…Thank God it did, and I will forever be grateful and now the last to EVER question..

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MNCKBBS7W4F6NYFB5SBCHH6WYQ MarkG

    your prayer to god cannot stop my bullet
    your prayer to god cannot heal an amputee
    therefore there is no god
    end of discussion

    • anti-crowley

      No Mark G, you have a child’s understanding of God, he is not Disney’s genie from the movie Aladdin.  You then give a classic straw-man argument and  put the final nail in the coffin of your credibility.  But thanks for sharing.

      • Tuna Ghost

        holy god did we just agree on something

    • Tuna Ghost

      It hardly needs to be mentioned, but by that definition you don’t exist either.  Now pipe down so the grown-ups can talk.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MNCKBBS7W4F6NYFB5SBCHH6WYQ MarkG

    your prayer to god cannot stop my bullet
    your prayer to god cannot heal an amputee
    therefore there is no god
    end of discussion

  • Matt

    God ensuring that his message to mankind is preserved?? He gave us freewill, brother. It’s men that run the printing presses. Who wrote those manuscripts? Men did. You, and many others unfortunately operate under a circular reasoning fallacy. Your line of thought attempts to use the conclusion of an argument as proof of the assumption. For example: “How do I know the Bible is true?  Because God wrote the Bible.  How do I know God wrote the Bible?  Because it says so in it, and it’s true.” I have faith in God but I also have a brain.

  • Matt

    God ensuring that his message to mankind is preserved?? He gave us freewill, brother. It’s men that run the printing presses. Who wrote those manuscripts? Men did. You, and many others unfortunately operate under a circular reasoning fallacy. Your line of thought attempts to use the conclusion of an argument as proof of the assumption. For example: “How do I know the Bible is true?  Because God wrote the Bible.  How do I know God wrote the Bible?  Because it says so in it, and it’s true.” I have faith in God but I also have a brain.

  • Bozo the Clown

    “Only retarded people believe in Magic(k)”. Hmmm. I wonder how many thoughts are your own. Even your avatar pic isn’t original. Your mind has obviously been spammed. How many brand name products are in your house right now? Maybe you believe in magic after all.

  • Mr Willow

    it’s called rape

    Not if it’s consensual. 

    Rape is the act of physically forcing an individual into sexual intercourse. And sexual relations between persons younger than eighteen is only considered ‘morally depraved and degenerate’ to contemporary sensibilities. In centuries past, it was not uncommon for men (sometimes quite old) to marry thirteen year old girls, and such a practise was seen as socially acceptable. 

    The repugnance associated with sex involving anyöne under the age of eighteen is a fairly recent phenomenon—I think a hold-over from Victorian-era sensibilities, which was so incredibly sexually repressed that a woman’s bare ankle was considered lewd or risqué. 

  • Mr Willow

    it’s called rape

    Not if it’s consensual. 

    Rape is the act of physically forcing an individual into sexual intercourse. And sexual relations between persons younger than eighteen is only considered ‘morally depraved and degenerate’ to contemporary sensibilities. In centuries past, it was not uncommon for men (sometimes quite old) to marry thirteen year old girls, and such a practise was seen as socially acceptable. 

    The repugnance associated with sex involving anyöne under the age of eighteen is a fairly recent phenomenon—I think a hold-over from Victorian-era sensibilities, which was so incredibly sexually repressed that a woman’s bare ankle was considered lewd or risqué. 

  • Mr Willow

    And animists and monists and polytheists and pantheists and occultists and esotericists. . . 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000480492140 Tony Traverso

    all religions are stupid… oh wait not eloquent enough

    • anti-crowley

      As opposed to your ultra rational and comprehensive world view I suppose, if you would only share your wisdom with us oh enlightened one.

  • Vexed.

    So How Many more times are people here going to Crown themselves? Declaring End of Story/Discussion every comment. Oh I See, It is just unoriginal people echoing each other. Real Individuals you all are, Real Original.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000480492140 Tony Traverso

    all religions are stupid… oh wait not eloquent enough

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000480492140 Tony Traverso

    all religions are stupid… oh wait not eloquent enough

  • Vexed.

    So How Many more times are people here going to Crown themselves? Declaring End of Story/Discussion every comment. Oh I See, It is just unoriginal people echoing each other. Real Individuals you all are, Real Original.

  • Vexed.

    So How Many more times are people here going to Crown themselves? Declaring End of Story/Discussion every comment. Oh I See, It is just unoriginal people echoing each other. Real Individuals you all are, Real Original.

  • Vexed.

    Everybody is King Shit. I Mean everybody, Every single person on the Planet must be a King. My Fault…

    • supervexi

      Shame to see this thread starting to degenerate.

      Reading through all the name calling and such though, there is actually some intelligent debate going on here.  One point that was brought up recently really struck me, yet it was almost just glossed over.  It
      seems a fundamental issue to me, despite being reductive.  Or almost because it is reductive to the extreme limit.

      Regardless of your personal religious beliefs, or lack thereof, any coherent comprehensive worldview must touch on this one way or another.  It would seem that there are only two possibilities:

      1) Matter has always existed. (And for that matter so has time…)

      or

      2) Matter did not exist.  (And neither did time)

      I don’t know how well I have phrased this.  Both possibilities bend my mind when I try to really comprehend them.  Both seem equally stupendous.  Either stuff has existed for eternity, or something came from nothing.

      I wonder what some of you participating in this thread think about this, informed by your various worldviews, and how you would explain which you believe, and why.

      • Tuna Ghost

        The general idea is that something came from nothing, although why that happened–or why there is anything at all rather than nothing at all–remains a mystery.  Mystics point to the cyclical nature of the universe, matter becomes anti-matter becomes matter.

        • supervexi

          A mystery indeed.
          Even with the cyclical/eastern view on things though, either there is an ultimate beginning – or there isn’t.  Truly trying to hold even just the idea of eternity (and not some some arbitrary long time) in the mind is maddening, and possibly impossible by definition.  On the other hand, trying to actually imagine nothing (not just empty space), no matter, no time, no space, no universe, nothing… That’s just as bad or even worse!

          When you dig down deep, anyone who honestly tries to answer this question gets far outside the light of real science, and to a point where god/no-god, creation/mere-existence, it is all just as extraordinarily unfathomable and really, miraculous.

          • Andrew
          • supervexi

            Thanks for the links Andrew.  Unfortunately, neither really deal with the issue to my satisfaction.  The multiverse is something of a side issue.  And the lynchpin idea of the second link, the one with the cute video, is that a system cannot have zero total energy.  It presupposes an extant universe (albeit very small) that is empty of matter.  However, as we all know, the universe, space, time, and energy are all somethings.  And are generally exchangeable at one level or another.  So, either there was no universe (actual nothingness, not just empty somethingness), from which the universe arose,or the uni/multiverse has in fact always existed.

            I don’t know that this particular bit of the larger thread can actually go anywhere, but it is such an interesting issue to ponder.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jonabitstream Jon Anderson

            I offer something I recently read and saw in a documentary: the coming “Singularity” and ideas about why it is happening. I’m reading “The Suicide Note” wherein the author strongly suggests that even though god doesn’t exist, we all understand god should exist and in fact that is exactly what we’re up to as we approach that Singularity. We are creating god.

          • Tuna Ghost

            this would be the technological Singularity the transhumanists are always on about, correct?

          • Andrew

            I think they deal with the issue exactly by offering evidence that something has always existed, even though this universe hasn’t.  I don’t think any scientist or atheist can (or does?) argue that the universe arose from actual nothingness.

          • supervexi

            It is certainly interesting to note that the transhumanists, many new-age spiritualists, esoteric fraternists, christian fundamentalists, and many more all see a rapidly nearing major event.  All interpret this event through the lens of their own particular views, but there does seem to be a growing awareness or anticipation of SOMETHING that is about to happen.  Daniel Pinchebeck has a book out, “2012” that details much of this from a particular shamanistic point of view.  Regardless of one’s own beliefs, I think that most people could agree that we are on some sort of precipice. 

            Whether a consciousness shift, a new age, gnostic enlightenment, the end times, or something else is on the other side remains to be seen.

  • Vexed.

    Everybody is King Shit. I Mean everybody, Every single person on the Planet must be a King. My Fault…

  • Anonymous

    I’ll admit, Christianity in general takes a big slap from the past and present deeds of Catholiclism. The whole guilt-by-association thing has its effect. 

  • Tuna Ghost

    …but I am
    honestly a little surprised by your statement that magick was separated
    from religion in Africa and the Middle-East before the advent of the
    Abrahamic faiths.

     

    It’s not so much a separation of magic from religion, but more of a separation between priests and magicians.  You’re correct in that most indigenous religions still have a lot of what we would call magic, but this was the time that the role of priests became separate from that of magicians.  The traditional role of the shaman had become split as religion became more and more organized–the priest intervened with the gods on behalf of the society through organized rituals that more or less everyone was involved in, whereas magicians did not have a specific role to play or duty to society to perform.

  • anti-crowley

    So they don’t believe in creation or non-creation…Mr Willow all of those were covered, you wrongly assumed a creationist is just the Abrahamic religions.

  • anti-crowley

    As opposed to your ultra rational and comprehensive world view I suppose, if you would only share your wisdom with us oh enlightened one.

  • anti-crowley

    The presence of evil gives rise to free will, therefore is necessary.
    Free will comes with the consequences of our actions, which effect those around us.
    You assume bad things should not happen to us, as if we are too righteous for it, which is arrogant.

  • anti-crowley

    The presence of evil gives rise to free will, therefore is necessary.
    Free will comes with the consequences of our actions, which effect those around us.
    You assume bad things should not happen to us, as if we are too righteous for it, which is arrogant.

  • anti-crowley

    The presence of evil gives rise to free will, therefore is necessary.
    Free will comes with the consequences of our actions, which effect those around us.
    You assume bad things should not happen to us, as if we are too righteous for it, which is arrogant.

  • anti-crowley

    I would disagree, creative modes tend to operate in higher Alpha brainwave frequencies.  Any significant change in brainwave freqs is a chance is consciousness.  Like I said, we change levels of consciousness many times every day depending on our level of alertness.  We are most likely talking about the same thing.  I was talking about using the lower levels of brain wave function to communicate with entities which people give various names.

  • emperorreagan

    And I do realize I almost completely ignored the issue of the existence of deity.

    I think that’s a “can’t see the forest for the trees” issue.  The fundamental issue isn’t whether god exits, it’s about the structure and constraints people feel in society.  

  • anti-crowley

    No Mark G, you have a child’s understanding of God, he is not Disney’s genie from the movie Aladdin.  You then give a classic straw-man argument and  put the final nail in the coffin of your credibility.  But thanks for sharing.

  • anti-crowley

    So your views on how everything started?  You have two choices, either something has existed for eternity, or it came from nothing…no other options.  Once you pick one of those two, you now meet the criteria for your own genocidal comment.  Will you kill yourself or should I do the honors?

  • anti-crowley

    Thanks for the lesson in rhetorical procedure Matt, sounds like you just read your 1st book on logical debate.  Keep reading and get to the straw-man chapter, then re-read my comment, not just the parts of it that you try to squeeze into your tired attack. 

  • anti-crowley

    Spoken like a true NAMBLA member, keep lobbying to congress, eventually sex with kids will be legal for you.

  • God

    Anti-Crowley, you’re getting carried away again.  How many times have we been over this, you and I?  I’m going to stop listening to your prayers, and possibly even revoke your “unlimited weekend rides” pass in heaven if you continue with this incessant trolling.
    However, if you sacrifice a small child for me, we’ll call it even and you can keep your rides pass.

    Oh, and stop masturbating!

  • Matt

    There was no book. You were saying?

  • J03

    Your viewpoints seem to work out if you think the mind is just another item that contains a magical property that cannot be measured or explained in a logically consistent manner.

    Consciousness is independent from imagined freedom.  There is nothing in the definition of consciousness that requires anything resembling free-will.

    “the state of being conscious;  awareness of one’s own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings, etc.” – dictionary.com

    We agree that consciousness and pre-consciousness are inseparable.  But we quite often do seem to disagree with our pre-conscious mind and struggle to do things to which there is no obvious impediment, like when someone consciously wants to lose weight but can’t or when someone consciously wants to quit smoking but can’t.

    Of course your actions are shaped by your environment/experience etc.  And if you disagree and propose that something other than ignorance or random chance fills the influence-gap between the known influencing factors and the actual decision or action, I would simply ask you to define that mechanism in logically explicit terms.

    Reflection influences your viewpoints, but you seem to forget that your ability to reflect and the conclusions you draw from reflection are simply a feedback loop that only contains the product of your biology (your mental hardware) and experience (information).  There is nothing magical about self-reflection.

    The argument that morality requires belief in free-will is repugnant and closely parallels the religious argument that says morality requires religion.

    There is no reason to assign blame (to a so-called actor or free-agent) in order to recognize behavioral problems.  You do not blame a rabid dog for its actions but this in no way impedes your solution to the obvious potential problems if cujo is left unchecked.  In fact, without free-will it behooves us to view problems (with individuals) as symptoms of systemic malfunction which leads us to more robust solutions than the pointless punitive aggravation of an individual.  For instance if a machine malfunctions, you do not publicly flog the bolt or wire that was at the point of failure, instead you bypass or replace (or repair?) the part and in the future when appropriate, engineer a more reliable system.

  • Anonymous

    Shame to see this thread starting to degenerate.

    Reading through all the name calling and such though, there is actually some intelligent debate going on here.  One point that was brought up recently really struck me, yet it was almost just glossed over.  It
    seems a fundamental issue to me, despite being reductive.  Or almost because it is reductive to the extreme limit.

    Regardless of your personal religious beliefs, or lack thereof, any coherent comprehensive worldview must touch on this one way or another.  It would seem that there are only two possibilities:

    1) Matter has always existed. (And for that matter so has time…)

    or

    2) Matter did not exist.  (And neither did time)

    I don’t know how well I have phrased this.  Both possibilities bend my mind when I try to really comprehend them.  Both seem equally stupendous.  Either stuff has existed for eternity, or something came from nothing.

    I wonder what some of you participating in this thread think about this, informed by your various worldviews, and how you would explain which you believe, and why.

  • Tuna Ghost

    For someone whose posts suggest a christian, you do a fair bit of judging and name-calling.  A christian troll?  How…unremarkable.  

  • Tuna Ghost

    The general idea is that something came from nothing, although why that happened–or why there is anything at all rather than nothing at all–remains a mystery.  Mystics point to the cyclical nature of the universe, matter becomes anti-matter becomes matter.

  • Tuna Ghost

    Bah.  They’re not motivated by their true will, they’re motivated by greed and desire.  That phrase of Crowley’s is as often misquoted as the Marx line I quoted in the article.

  • Tuna Ghost

    hey now, let’s obligatory call to sanity

  • Tuna Ghost

    It hardly needs to be mentioned, but by that definition you don’t exist either.  Now pipe down so the grown-ups can talk.

  • Tuna Ghost

    It is possible to incorporate the modalities of a specific religion into your life without actively believing in the religion. 

    I was just saying this to a friend earlier today.  He’s an ardent atheist who cannot move beyond the “God doesn’t exist!” portion of the discussion.  He’s as unwilling to change his conception of religion as any fundementalist.  

  • Anonymous

    I wonder about this very question sometimes. 

    On the face of it, the argument that evil exists seems a strong one against a good and all-powerful god.  But then, when I think about ultimate reasons, I wonder why such a god would have created us.  To be good little automatons running around stroking his ego through worship all day?  Well that seems rather petty.  I have a possible theory and it hinges on this:  Supposedly we have been given choice, but choice requires options. 

    If we were created by an all-powerful lone god, it seems to me that he would be, or at least dictate, what is moral or not.  Simply, acting in accordance with his wishes would be ‘good’, and against them, ‘evil’.  For us to have any meaningful choice, we must be able to choose to act against his wishes, or in a manner that we can call evil or wicked.

    The Epicurean poem above, supposes that for a god to be good, he must desire to stamp out evil, and that this priority must trump any others.  What if, instead, we supposed that this all-powerful god had a specific agenda when creating human-kind, other that little worship-robots?  Perhaps the human race is an unfinished creation, and somehow the experience of a life lived with viable options to act ‘good’ or ‘evil’, somehow is finishing that creation?  Imagine pottery for a moment.  The clay is shaped into its final form, yet the creation is not complete.  It must go into the kiln be fired first.  Perhaps this existence on Earth is our kiln.  Perhaps that is the agenda, and it is a higher priority than having the clay be comfy and coddled all the time.

    What would the ultimate goal or purpose for all this be?  I am not sure, but I imagine that having a bunch of souls around that have lived, learned, fallen, and gotten back up would be slightly more interesting company for the all-powerful god in eternity than those of the worship-bots who were incapable of making mistakes.

  • Tuna Ghost

    So far, I win.

    I think we’re playing different games, brother.  

  • TheYawningPreterist

    The many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics is admittedly controversial but there are many who support it. For more info, here’s another link I am sure you won’t bother checking out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Many-worlds_interpretation

    How convenient that you choose to completely ignore the part of my post about self-fulfilled prophecies…

    Yes, you have freedom of speech, just like the rest of us…but look what you are choosing to do with it: spewing archaic nonsense which glorifies ignorance while simultaneously encouraging death and destruction, while the rest of us are trying to proactively deal with all of the man-made chaos which we find ourselves wallowing in…

    I don’t have the time or patience to wait for Jesus to intervene…if he were the manager of a company, he would have been fired and taken to court for gross negligence (amongst many other charges…)

  • Tuna Ghost

    Where’ve you been, Doktor?  Been a while.

    I’m sure that something interesting is going on.

    Cut to Carrie Ann Moss whispering “it’s the question that drives us” into our collective ears…

  • Anonymous

    A mystery indeed.
    Even with the cyclical/eastern view on things though, either there is an ultimate beginning – or there isn’t.  Truly trying to hold even just the idea of eternity (and not some some arbitrary long time) in the mind is maddening, and possibly impossible by definition.  On the other hand, trying to actually imagine nothing (not just empty space), no matter, no time, no space, no universe, nothing… That’s just as bad or even worse!

    When you dig down deep, anyone who honestly tries to answer this question gets far outside the light of real science, and to a point where god/no-god, creation/mere-existence, it is all just as extraordinarily unfathomable and really, miraculous.

  • Tuna Ghost

    True, but without trying to get into a discussion on “what is art?”, one must consider things like photography or commissioned work or acting–although it could be possible that the “magic”, the real working, is happening somewhere else or at some other time.  Writers have told me that everything they do when they’re not writing is where the real action takes place, putting the pen to the paper is merely the manifestation of the actual “writing”.  

    I leery of calling any significant change in brainwave frequency an altered state of consciousness, it seems like it would involve far too many states to be considered useful.  

  • Tuna Ghost

    I think we may need to nail down a stricter definition of what we mean when we refer to consciousness, if we can.  What changes?  What changes to what?  Is this a neurological discussion or a mystical one?  

  • TheYawningPreterist

    I thought you were referring to a one-world currency (which again, I think is a great idea…)

  • Tuna Ghost

    I can see how atheism makes sense. I can’t bring my mind to accept it, due all the unexplained mysteries out there, such as consciousness,…

    I’m not sure how the existence of God is tied up with consciousness, but let me ask you: are you aware that there are materialist explanations for consciousness?  Look up Dan Dennett and Douglas Hofstatder.  

    Talking about religion usually goes around in circles usually due to the lack of concrete operational definitions of anything.

    This is true when one is attempting to nail down the metaphysics of a religion, but studying its role and its effect on society and individuals does not have these kinds of problems (it has a whole collection of other problems, but still).

  • Tuna Ghost

    Perhaps a useful exercise would be comparing a monotheistic religion’s effect and role in society and individuals with that of a religion that has no deity?  Care to take a crack at it?

  • Tuna Ghost

    Okay, now what role would you say your religion plays in your life?  What does it do?  Do you believe your religion is the basis for your morality?  For ALL morality?  Should it be?  Where do you see religion intersecting with other parts of society, for instance government?  Where should it intersect?

  • Tuna Ghost

    So the fossil record has always just been fossils in the dirt, is what you’re saying?

  • Tuna Ghost

    Okay, but what about religions that don’t have a deity?  What about religions where belief in the objective existence of a deity isn’t necessary?  Are these more suited to a modern society, and in what way?

  • Tuna Ghost

    How convenient that you choose to completely ignore the part of my post about self-fulfilled prophecies…

    He has a habit of ignoring questions he finds inconvenient.  It’s best not to take him very seriously.  

  • Tuna Ghost

    So you see religion as providing meaning in the followers’ lives?  I can see that working for the Abrahamic faiths, but indigenous religions and eastern religions don’t have the same perspective.  Why are they still popular?  

  • Tuna Ghost

    my god, someone actually addressed the questions I raised, I sort of want to kiss you right now.  

    The existence of God is, to my mind, secondary to all the other questions I’ve presented.  But my own religion doesn’t require the objective existence of a god to function, so I may be playing a different game.

    I have a lot to say about your responses, (for instance, the line about no religion looking favorably on murder–there are actually more than one that not only look favorably on it but advocate it) but I’m pressed for time.  Will get back to it later.    

  • Tuna Ghost

    Also, nobody should be allowed to even participate or write an article regarding this kind of thing without studying up on and then mentioning near death experiences. Sorry. If you aren’t even going to address that, you have no business commenting on or writing about spirituality.

    Read the questions in the article again.  The article is not about spirituality or the existence of God.  It’s about the role of religion in society and individuals, and the “whys” and “hows” regarding both those issues.  Near death experiences are not at all necessary for these topics, but if you want to take it in that direction go right ahead.  

  • Jin The Ninja

    Is it just me or is anyone else pleasantly surprised by the amount of magick/esoteric/pagan/buddho-/daoist/animist/pantheist- minded posters on disinfo? and here i thought i was special…

    • Anarchy Pony

      I know, right? 

  • Tuna Ghost

    holy god did we just agree on something

  • Anonymous

    Is it just me or is anyone else pleasantly surprised by the amount of magick/esoteric/pagan/buddho-/daoist/animist/pantheist- minded posters on disinfo? and here i thought i was special…

  • J03

    People often conflate determinism with predictability.

    Determinism does not require, for example, that a quantum state pre-exists its observation.

    Determinism simply describes cause and effect.  In fact, even if there was some magically non-influenced part of a person that was independent of their biology and experience that somehow exerted influence over the decision making process, it would simply be counted as another cause leading to the inevitable effect of that cause’s influence.

    The only way to prove that something “could have happened differently” would be to travel back in time.  

    Without any hard evidence, we are forced to conclude that any theory that we could have changed something in the past is merely the product of an over-active imagination.

  • Anonymous

    Well, ya know, the man been keepin’ me down and shit. I got bitch slapped off the throbbing teat of the internet due to non-payment for services. I was brutally weaned. But now I have clamped my hungry mouth back on the udder to join again with my faceless friends and wallow in our wordy excretions. Oh the sweet milk of life!

    >yeah The Matrix (the first movie especially) was an earth shaking creation in terms of expanding perception  of being part of much larger and largely invisible machine, system or Matrix. Not that I would take the story itself literally in any way of course, but is was replete with useful  and interesting mystical references that really got you thinking about the nature of reality.

    Indeed, it IS the question that drives us…  

  • JoJoDancer

    I will be the first to agree that anti-crowley has an ax to grind, but let’s not get carried away in defending “the wickedest man in the world.”  Crowley called himself “The Great Beast 666,” and while it was a bit of a tongue-in-cheek reaction to Christianity, he did plenty of vile things to live up to the moniker.

    It seems like folks of such liberal predilections would not be so quick to defend Crowley.  He waxed poetic about eating turds in “Leah Sublime,” he brutally used women as little more than a means to an end, he occasionally refered to blacks as “niggers,” and was by all accounts a psychopath.  As for Tuna Ghost’s downplaying of Crowley’s drug habit, he did pen the (autobiographical?) novel “Diary of a Drug Fiend,” did he not?  He also squandered his inheritance and contributions from his followers–sounds like a drug fiend to me.

    Maybe Crowley’s recommendation to murder children as the most potent blood sacrifice was more sarcasm–then again, maybe it wasn’t.  I wouldn’t put it past him.  Even his followers, such as Israel Regardie, agreed that almost anyone who got close to Crowley either killed themselves or went insane.

    There is much to study and admire in Crowley’s work, but for God’s sake, don’t whitewash his character.

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    The fact that you assume we can explain how the brain works down to the dirty details in a logically consistent manner is very ignorant of you. Asking me to define these mechanisms in logically explicit terms is a trap I will not fall into because any attempt to explain them will be wrong with our current knowledge (yes even any explanation you try to give). I’m not saying we won’t know at some point, but I know right now we do not understand it nearly as much as you would like people to believe.

    “We agree that consciousness and pre-consciousness are inseparable.  But we quite often do seem to disagree with our pre-conscious mind.”You really contradict yourself and simultaneously bring up the point I was trying to make. The two are inseperable, but upon reflection in conscious thought, you begin to disagree with the automatic response. The reason will is important here, is because you can freely will (assuming you believe in it, and yours is strong enough) to change your automatic responses in the future if you so desire. You bring up the perfect example here. If you were right, it would be impossible to ever quit smoking. But people DO quit smoking. They automatically smoke, they consciously decide they do not want to anymore and, if they have a strong enough will, they will in fact quit smoking. If i wanted to give a definition to free will here, I’d say it was to the extent that a person could choose to modify their actions according to their conscious processing, but I really don’t think that does it justice

    I know you will always respond with the feedback loop response. Unfortunately you are using a logical form of confirmation bias. You say “free will doesnt exist, and all mental processing is deterministic”. so when I say free will requires a mental process you respond with “oh, no! I already said all mental processing is deterministic”

    Listen, I understand what you are trying to say, but you are looking at all this from a less-than useful perspective. you are looking at every action seconds after they happen rather than seconds before. Free will of an action of course is meaningless in the grand picture when you’re always looking backwards rather than forwards. Free will is an adaptation to the inherent uncertainty of the future. Not everyone thinks in perfect logic, or even prioritizes logic. This changes what they will. Not everyone prioritizes free will, or even believes in it, this also changes what they will. You assume that the brain is a logic machine, and everyone falls in line to the logical perspective, otherwise they are being emotional, ignorant, or their brain is just being random. You fail to understand that its really a mix of all these things.

  • JoJoDancer

    That is the trickiest aspect of the whole debate, in my opinion.  It is one thing to argue about the rationality of God or not-God, it is another entirely to explain experiences of God.

    There have been many neurological explanations proposed, some more convincing than others, but even that doesn’t put the questions to rest (for me.)  If you see a cup of coffee, that is a neurological phenomenon.  Why wouldn’t your brain light up when you see a ghost?

    Even trickier is deciphering the true visions from the caprice of one’s imagination (if there is a difference).  Psychotic murderers apparently speak to Gods and demons, Hindus dream of Krishna and Christians dream of Christ, and even huffing gasoline can provoke profound visions.  If humans do, in fact, possess a third eye, it is covered with a thick film of imagination and delusion.  Once you make the leap to begin viewing the world as magical, you are confronted with new problems of truth and consistency.

  • Mr Willow

    Thank you for the distinction.

  • Mr Willow

    That’s funny. 

    I offered a definition and historical context, since apparently you cannot distinguish between ‘rape’ and ‘molestation’ and are unaware that this business of setting a certain age at which it is then legally acceptable to deflower any individual has only been around for the past century and a half. I did not state my opinion on the matter. 

    In my opinion, having the ‘legal’ age set at eighteen is dismissive and insulting to the intelligence and volition of a sixteen year old. If you cannot decide at sixteen whether or not you want to have sex, then you might as well give up at life. I agree a thirteen or fourteen year old is probably not ready, but that is speculation and an exercise in lumping all thirteen and fourteen year olds together. I contemplated myself at fourteen whether or not I was prepared, or at least wanted to, but that is not true for every fourteen year old. 

    And before you say something like—“Well a sixteen year old could have sex, whether that entails being pressured into it or not, and then regret it afterward, because of the person, or a variety of other reasons. It could ruin their lives”—may I point out this may be equally true of a twenty year old or a thirty five year old.

  • Mr Willow

    If you mean the Initial Creation. . . most occultists, and some pantheists, don’t concern themselves with it that much.

  • No Man’s Land

     Materialist explanations of consciousness try to reduce to consciousness down to computational activities. Sure most of consciousness involves computations, but they haven’t explained the big picture. They can explain things along the lines of viewing the brain as an organic computer, which works well for dealing with things that follow the principles of Behaviorism and classical conditioning but they seem shaky to me when trying to deal with things like intuition, spontaneous insight, and the experience of energy transduction awareness (ex like kundalini and “runner’s high”, where one is aware of a universal energy force that manifest itself in different forms and can produces energy by changing forms, so one can feel the transformation of oxygen breathed in into energy in the muscles…hard to explain, that’s the best I can come up with right now.). They also don’t take into account the mysteries still unexplained, such as near death experiences. In Pim Van Lommel’s book “Consciousness Beyond Life” (THE best book ever on the NDE phenomenon, written by a cardiologist and not some new age hack), he talks about a case where a lady was undergoing surgery for a brain aneurysm had all the blood drained from her brain, shutting it’s activity down to zero. She had a near death experience in which she overheard the medical staff and later verified specific things that were said. This shows that consciousness may go beyond the physical components of the brain.
    Consciousness is tied to the existence of God because if there is a God, our consciousness is our connection with that higher being. If there is an afterlife, then the same consciousness that is “inside” our brain will be the one that travels to the “other side”. If there is a soul, one’s consciousness is it’s anchor in this world. It is the foundation of our existence, yet one of the biggest mysteries of our existence. Even if it is explained by materialistic means, I find the fact that it exists at all a sort of guiding light showing that it’s really unlikely that everything just came about by accident. The complexity of the brain is astounding. There are billions of neurons with trillions of connections between them, and somehow this big ball of highly interconnected electric jello gives one a sense of identity and meaning. When it comes to seeing the world through the eyes of an atheist, thinking about how consciousness emerged from a brain that developed by accident is about the point where I give up. I know, not rational or scientific, but when I feel like I’m trying to force myself to believe something like that, it just doesn’t work for me.
    “This is true when one is attempting to nail down the metaphysics of a religion, but studying its role and its effect on society and individuals does not have these kinds of problems (it has a whole collection of other problems, but still). “
    The role of religion and it’s effect on society and individuals is rooted on the metaphysics of the religions involved. It’s the metaphysical thinking that ties in with the ideas of “Who is God, why did he put us here, how does he want us to act, what will he do to us if we don’t do things his way”. It’s one’s metaphysical concept of a either a loving or vengeful god that prompts one to either accept or reject others. Even in the same church, it’s common for people to dispute about whether or not god interferes with people’s lives on earth, punishes people with illnesses or injuries when they mess up, or punishes society as a whole for “man’s law” contradicting “God’s law”.

  • Andrew

    What exactly would “giv[ing] up at life” entail?

  • Vexed.

    Wow what a _____ I just ended my Point with this  “There is no time! Time is something we created to organize the world. We always have been What we are!”   if you somehow were not able to read it, Like I said Arguments perpetuated by the two annoy everybody and you are just trying to lure me into an argument,And Im not going to have arguments with you people. You know that the Mason knows that there is no time… There is no Creation point and there is no Evolution Nor Time For that “Matter” Kill Myself or You Kill me? That is never going to Happen. You are nowhere near Realistic and maybe you shouldn’t be allowed to exist in others REALITY.

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    I always liked the “everything we dont understand” definition of god, because even if it isnt exactly right, it still contains god by proxy (because we of course don’t understand it)

  • Mr Willow

    In context of making a personal decision concerning one’s own attitude toward having sex—do you want to, or not want to, or do you think you are ready or not ready? (probably could have phrased it better or more specifically)

    Relinquish all personal decision making to another individual. 

  • anti-crowley

    Most occultists are too busy doing things like circle jerking into a coffin, TUBALCAIN!!

  • Guest (you turd)

    As of this posting, the legal age of consent in England is sixteen. Perhaps you should not be so quick to place your own ideas of what constitute an adult on the rest of the world (who tend to have a better grip on these things anyway.)

  • J03

    Let me first say that I appreciate your engagement in this conversation even though you expressed hesitancy at the outset.  You are making some excellent points that I will attempt to address to the best of my ability.

    I am not asking you to perform the (currently) impossible task of mapping every function of the human brain. I would simply like some description of free-will, even a dictionary definition that makes some kind of sense. Parsimony would seem to dictate some explanation of why anyone should resort to injecting free-will into a perfectly functioning deterministic theory of human behavior.  

    Free-will, from what I’ve been able to gather over the years is the ability to make a willful decision that itself is free from previous events and by implication this includes biology and furthermore extends to all metaphysical and theoretical influences.

    The very obvious problem is that even if something could exist, even in theory, that was completely free from previous influences of all kinds, that thing, whatever it might be, could not possibly be considered a decision maker.  Quite clearly because a decision is something we make based on our thoughts and feelings and maybe a little randomness.  Thoughts and feelings are wholly products of previous influence and therefore cannot be considered free-will (which is free from influence).  Randomness is by definition outside of our consciousness and outside our control and therefore cannot be considered something that we as individuals can take credit or blame for.

    As for the division of consciousness, you seem to be forgetting that your conscious decision to stop smoking is an influenced decision.  You are informed that is bad for your health, the cost may become prohibitive, you may know people who have urged you to stop.  These are all deterministic factors leading to your effort to stop.  Human minds are not unified.  Part of us hates to work but loves the money.  Part of us loves to get drunk but hates the hang-over.  Part of us loves to spend money but hates being broke.  Deterministic factors pile up on all sides pulling us in many different directions until the force of one temporarily breaks the others loose and we take that action instead of some other action.  The strongest chain at any particular juncture forces our hand.

    When you say that free-will requires a mental process I have to ask how a mental process can be free from influence.  And I would counter that a mental process does not in any way require free-will.

    Looking into an uncertain future we draw on our experiences and instincts and emotions.  Relying on a non-influenced influence to explain willful action is tantamount to saying “god told me to do it”.

    The overwhelming majority of scientifically observable phenomena are subject to cause and effect.  This includes emotion and so-called irrational behavior.  The only exception as far as we currently can tell is quantum randomness, which may or may not be fundamentally random, but regardless of that verdict, true randomness is fundamentally at odds with the concept of a willful decision.

    namaste

  • Vexed.

    To Me Life is just an Epic Holiday, There are Creative and Destructive Forces here on the Earth. Which Force do you Use and Work with? Ask Yourself Are you a Creative Force or a Destructive Force? That is up to the Individual…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIp1iBzRL20&NR=1

  • Vexed.

    To Me Life is just an Epic Holiday, There are Creative and Destructive Forces here on the Earth. Which Force do you Use and Work with? Ask Yourself Are you a Creative Force or a Destructive Force? That is up to the Individual…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIp1iBzRL20&NR=1

  • emperorreagan

    I’ll go ahead and preemptively comment that I would consider generic killing and murder two different things.

    Murder is something that you do to a member of your social group in good standing.  Killing is what you do to people outside of your social group. Perhaps my terminology is off – I’ve been reading urban fantasy instead of exploring sociology and anthropology in recent years.

    The former typically receives stiff sanction.  The latter may receive anywhere from social sanction to outright praise.  

    You can think of different ways this plays out in a society: for instance, many people are all about the death penalty and praise guys like Governor Perry for signing death warrants.  Killing is the sanction levied for murder; or, alternately, killing is an acceptable means of maintaining social order, while murdering is not acceptable within that social order.

    A neo-nazi killing a black man might be viewed as something to be praised in his organization.  Even at a step broader level of a state, it might be passed off depending on the biases of the region.  At the national level, though, perhaps the FBI labels this as a murder and pursues the investigation.

    A pilot may negligently bomb a wedding party in Afghanistan and the military may happily write it off as no wrongdoing.  If a pilot on a training run in the US negligently strafed a wedding party, it would be treated entirely differently.

    A Christian fundamentalist may kill an abortion doctor. To his fundamentalist community, he is a hero bringing judgement to a murderer. To the rest of the society, he’s a murderous psychopath destroying the life of an innocent person.

    The viewpoint that there is no “other” that could ever be deserving of killing, and that all killing is murder is a fairly marginalized opinion.

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    What about religions that accept a nonexistence of a god but find it better to believe in one as a tool for particular goals. In that manner, what if some felt that the pure faith and belief in this god would get those goals more effectively if they did not accept the nonexistence, so taught their children to believe in it wholeheartedly?

  • JoJoDancer

    Look, man, everybody appreciates your counterpoints (right?), but the whole purpose of this thread is to have a civil discussion.  The only people circle-jerking into a coffin are behind a keyboard–in a figurative sense, anyway.

  • Vexed.

    So Yeah if you have any type of skills that involve reading carefully, You would have noticed That I do not believe that anything “Started” and that I made it clear that I believe that we always were and always have been. I Cannot believe That I have to clarify something that I already said… 
    And time did not exist until we created and utilized it. So When did time begin? When we started to use time to measure and organize the world, and this right here calls for the name calling. So how much “time” went by before we created it? And thanks for insinuating that Im some “Nazi” Hell bent on Genocide! Really awesome tactic to get people to look at my comment negatively, because you see my point of view as a Threat to one of the “Two” that YOU endorse or believe in. “Genocidal” lol Hahahahaha!!! Oh by the way I am not arguing, But Rather clarifying what you seem to have looked over as my point was clear enough. I am not confused! But you seem to be the only one confused or in a state of concluding me and Writing me off quickly.

  • Wanooski

    I know, right? 

  • Wanooski

    I know, right? 

  • Wanooski

    No you are an expletive and I am calling the legitimacy of your parentage into question!

  • Wanooski

    No you are an expletive and I am calling the legitimacy of your parentage into question!

  • Vexed.

    Wax Philosophical if you must… But I do not remember anybody only having “Two” choices, Or even Having to believe in one of the Two. When did that happen? and who exactly is the King who has the only say? You must be the types who say it must only be a Democrat or Republican there is no other way… Or you must be one of the people that only endorse “Good” or “Evil” Look, I believe there is no time… I believe we are either as individuals, Creative forces or Destructive forces. You can choose to be one or the other if you must believe in two options only. Like I said I do not believe in a single Creative force or Destructive force controlling us, I believe we can be Creative or Destructive forces. But I guess that would be to hard to read carefully as simple as it is stated or comprehend even. Im signing out have fun arguing with each other. I have a Creative or Destructive path to choose and get on with and no “Time” for arguing or clarifying what I already said. Which it should be not too hard to read it over again, Its typed and there for you to read over and over again. Not like I said it verbally and you need me to repeat it.

  • Vexed.

    Wax Philosophical if you must… But I do not remember anybody only having “Two” choices, Or even Having to believe in one of the Two. When did that happen? and who exactly is the King who has the only say? You must be the types who say it must only be a Democrat or Republican there is no other way… Or you must be one of the people that only endorse “Good” or “Evil” Look, I believe there is no time… I believe we are either as individuals, Creative forces or Destructive forces. You can choose to be one or the other if you must believe in two options only. Like I said I do not believe in a single Creative force or Destructive force controlling us, I believe we can be Creative or Destructive forces. But I guess that would be to hard to read carefully as simple as it is stated or comprehend even. Im signing out have fun arguing with each other. I have a Creative or Destructive path to choose and get on with and no “Time” for arguing or clarifying what I already said. Which it should be not too hard to read it over again, Its typed and there for you to read over and over again. Not like I said it verbally and you need me to repeat it.

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    Ok I think I may see the confusion here. Let me define free will in a deterministic sense (because at a certain level you can take determinism as being true). I never wanted to claim that free will does not take into account experience or any other conditions. I am partial to free will being an emergent phenomena, but one that emerges uniquely in all of us. In a sense because of what could be called random chance or alternatively, just merely existence, where we are each bombarded with unique experiences, becoming unique human beings. Now, still within a deterministic framework, we each have a unique perspective. Free will does not have to be a magical force or spiritual phenomena, but in essence, we have what is “effective” free will. We each have particular desires goals and such, even if it is shaped by our deterministic reality. However, because we cannot in fact see the future, nor can we be omniscient, uncertainty is a core part of the human condition.

    Because of this, even if free will doesn’t exist, treating it like it does is a more effective way of dealing with the uncertainty. In the hypothetical automatic mind, if you believe in free will, you are more likely to automatically tip the scales towards what you personally believe in (no matter how you arrived at that point). Believing in free will also makes it more likely to do something that isn’t expected, and may even be creative. It’s a bit of a strange situation where the more it is believed, the more it is true, because if it isn’t globally believed it will be discouraged. I’ll stop with this point though, because it can get weird if I take it any further.

    I’m thinking of free will as an emergent process just like say, a newly broken off species has emerged in nature. yes, deterministic rules got them both there, but they do not follow anything but themselves (hence being free). I guess i’m going to be repeating myself, but I am arguing that the free will, and acts that are done are synonymous. When I say “I will this” yes, all of the experiences and thoughts and brain processes are the things that caused this to happen. But the claim I am making is that I AM those experiences thoughts and brain processes. These factors are inseparable from me, and I am inseparable from them. 

    I really need to read the paper given a few replies up about determinism and free will being compatible, because it seems to mesh rather well with my viewpoint.

  • Anonymous

    JO3, you and Chaorder have got quite a good discussion on free will going on here.  I’d like to jump in just a bit, as it appears (from the outside) that the two of you are using the same words differently, and as such, talking across each other.

    First of all, I think it is important to consider the idea that determinism and free will are not necessarily mutually exclusive.  As you rightly pointed out, JO3, determinism talks about cause and effect, not predetermined outcome.  And while I cannot speak for Chaorder, I do not think that any serious thinker would suggest that the idea of free will attempts to sever cause from effect.

    For example: As I am walking down the street, someone suddenly pushes me out of the way, calls me a dirty name, and flips me the bird.  Cause. 
       Now at this point I have a range of possible options, more than I even realize, and more than I will consciously consider.  But say I come down on either punching him in the face (let’s say it is my conditioned response) or just ignoring it (I am walking with my girlfriend and she hates violence and I am trying to impress her, trying to fight my conditioned, or automatic response). Options.
       Considering the options, until I have acted, I actually have the ability to choose either outcome.  Free will.

    Of course once I have acted, we can analyze and see all the myriad reasons why, and you get your determinism.  Obviously no one acts in a vacuum, separate from their past, their biology, their worldview, their surroundings, etc.  It is not possible.  But then, I don’t think that free will is trying to say that they do.  Rather, it says that until the moment of choice, they have a choice.

    I’ve often wondered if we were able to hit rewind on time, and then play, what would happen?  Would, like a movie, everything happen exactly the same?  Or would it be more like a lava lamp, and would it all play out differently?  Over the years I have come down on different answers.  Sometimes I take the movie answer and use it to say that the idea of free will is meaningless.  Yes you have a choice, but if you rewind/play a million times and you always make the same choice, it wouldn’t appear to be much of a choice at all would it?  Other times I take the lava lamp approach, and realizing that quantum mechanics deals in probabilities, it seems almost impossible that not one wave function would collapse into a different result.  Even in a strictly deterministic view, the first little change in the rewind/play would ripple out, changing the environment and peoples choices, which further changes the environment, etc. out in ever magnifying circles.

    As a side note, I recall an article in the Scientific American, perhaps two years ago, that dealt with the recursive feedback loops involved in decision making.  The thrust of the article was that the recursive nature meant it was impossible to accurately predict beforehand, the outcome of a thought process.  Essentially anti-PREdeterministic, which is not necessarily to say anti-deterministic.

    Well, I hope this was a valuable contribution to the debate.

  • Honu

    It’s a good question but you might as well try to define the soul which is as equally difficult to define.  And why is it so important to you to clean up this discussion about religion anyway and make definitions?  The rational mindset which is so dominant in the western world, can’t look past it’s own limitations to see that it is in fact a belief system in and of itself.  Just because the world is made up of Newtonian physics doesn’t mean it also isn’t made up of quantum physics which blatantly defies the ‘A+B=C’ approach to understanding our world and our universe.  Sometimes you have to use other faculties to understand the bigger questions you’re trying to address here and when you take this into account, there’s no religious debate to clean up because the debate is limited to begin with.

  • anti-crowley

    I stand corrected…crowley was a molester.  Now we are all happy.

  • anti-crowley

    Exact OPPOSITE statement of Tuna Ghost, end of story.

  • Anonymous

    You guys know Disinfo is the distributor for that DVD right?

  • anti-crowley

    My sincerest apologies JJD, I tend to assume others have a thick skin when sometimes they do not.  I also seem to be unique in the expectation that in this subject, to expect others to leave strong emotional response out of it seems disingenuous.  I prefer to hear peoples true feelings, even if they are that of anger.  I have no time for false pleasantries.  The PC approach tends to end up in the extreme left end of the spectrum.  That last comment of mine was a cheap joke, I will refrain from those in the future.  I really do appreciate the calm and mature rebuke.

  • anti-crowley

    Just the fact that I have known many with similar beliefs as yourself who fit the description.  Usually someone who differs from how they were brought up has a rebellious explanation for doing so.  That applies to all world views.  I went through something similar myself a few years back.

  • anti-crowley

    Now that is a post that makes my time here worth it.  NO GDB or TG its not just because he leans towards my views, though it helps.  More because he describes what true Christianity believes, not some caricature of Christianity (the straw man that I always bring up) that people love to attack.  I hope supervexi becomes a regular around these parts.  

  • anti-crowley

    Now that is a post that makes my time here worth it.  NO GDB or TG its not just because he leans towards my views, though it helps.  More because he describes what true Christianity believes, not some caricature of Christianity (the straw man that I always bring up) that people love to attack.  I hope supervexi becomes a regular around these parts.  

  • anti-crowley

    Time has various definitions unless framed within a particular framework.  I am referring not to astronomical events such as sunset or seasons, nor entropy.  I refer to the time definition of cause bringing about an effect.  In order to have an effect, the cause must have contained the information for the effect within it.  The existence of matter contains this.  If you have matter, you have material cause and effect.  Even within quantum function.  You also believe in eternal existence with no creation correct?  Bottom line is you have not thought your belief in this area through to its logical conclusion.  If you go back far enough in your view, either something caused something else without having the information to do so, or all current information has always existed…an infinite amount of time in the past, which we cannot comprehend.  So your entire argument rests on an incomprehensible premise, yet you call the rest of us illogical?

  • anti-crowley

    There is more proof for Jesus existing than for most of the historical figures I’m sure you believe existed.  We have many non Biblical accounts of Jesus (Josephus for example) that give a nonpartisan witness to the fact that the person of Joshua Ben Joseph (Jesus Christ) was an actual living man.  Josephus also confirms that there were miracles contributed to this man called Jesus, though he did not claim to have witnessed them.  I might also remind you that the question of the origin or non-origin of the universe are both questions with nothing but unbelievable answers to them.  Either matter has existed with no beginning, it came from another dimension which came from another dimension ect.  or it came from absolutely nothing (no matter to cause a big bang, no space ect).

    The canon was assembled nearly 400 years after Christ, but the books within it were of the century of Christs life.  I would refer you to Polycarp, Ireneaus, Ignateous, Philo, or Josephus.  As for the old testament,  the dead sea scrolls date mainly before Christ.  You have simply fallen into false facts that are pushed by those who have no knowledge of scholarship, but get away with making statements like that because nobody in the room has any education in the things I have just mentioned.  I am not attacking you here, I used much of the same arguments you are making myself in the past, until I researched the stuff.  Please look into it yourself.

  • anti-crowley

    Oh I’m sorry, what I was saying is this.  Based on your statements about how the Bible is corrupt and not trustworthy as God’s word, I wonder how it is you claim to be a real Christian?  Instead I submit that you are not actually a Christian, but tried to claim to be one in order to gain some sense of validity in trying to refute me.  Which lasted about ten seconds after your post hit.

  • anti-crowley

    you and most others, which is why it is going to happen.  IMF and World Bank have been drafting one for years.  China and the others of the cooperation counsel have been pushing it since 2008.  Another lucky guess from our prophetic friends 2,000 years ago.

  • anti-crowley

    you and most others, which is why it is going to happen.  IMF and World Bank have been drafting one for years.  China and the others of the cooperation counsel have been pushing it since 2008.  Another lucky guess from our prophetic friends 2,000 years ago.

  • anti-crowley

    Are you blaming Jesus for our economy?  Try money grubbing central banks and those in government who accept contributions to push legislation on their behalf.  I wonder what you personally are doing to handle the “man-made chaos?”   I choose to believe in the one reality I see.  In that reality I have documents that describe all of these events we see today.  You can contribute them to the theoretical multiverse which many theoretical physicists reject.  Thanks for the wiki link, but contrary to your presumptuous and ignorant premise, I am fully aware of the current theories of quantum mechanics.  You don’t seem to be, my guess is that you watched “What the bleep down the rabbit hole” and now consider yourself an expert.  Real quantum mechanics makes no claims about what occurs in those other dimensions, just that mathematically they can exist.  You are speaking more about the new age spin on what secular scientists have proposed.  Your spin, if presented at a major conference, would be laughed out of the room.

    I don’t encourage death and destruction, I simply state that I believe it is going to happen.  Which by the way, many secular foreign relations advisers also warn of.  Are they abusing their freedom of speech?  I don’t necessarily support Israel in all they do, I just believe that when the nations attack them, God will stop those nations.

    The self fulfilled argument is arbitrary.  The prophecies throughout the Bible say nothing about man not causing them to happen, it just states that it will happen.  The fact that the Bible’s predictions would be so difficult to cause to happen all at the same time 2,000 years afterward is just as astounding.

  • anti-crowley

    I agree, its far more likely.  Which is why if they are instead attacked it would make my belief in Biblical prophecy more resolute.

  • anti-crowley

    and apparently yours does not involve a sense of humor.  I will from now put “lol” after all my sarcastic remarks…see what you have reduced me to?

  • anti-crowley

    Gotta admit, pretty funny.  But that was just a lucky guess about me masturbating.

  • Anonymous

    If you thought Crowley was trying to separate himself from God, I’m not sure you’re qualified to be the anti-crowley.

  • TheYawningPreterist

    Lucky guess is not much of a stretch when you really think about it…having a consistent currency is a very practical idea and probably made even more sense back then when you take into account that their “world” was a lot smaller than ours is today (ie: whole continents unexplored and unknown…)

  • Tuna Ghost

    Out of curiosity, have you read Diary of a Dope Fiend?  He was an addict, but not a willing one.  Obviously he wasn’t without his problems and is open to all sorts of criticisms, but anti-crowley has managed to avoid all of the legitimate criticisms and focus on the bullshit rumors.  

  • J03

    The compatibilists view uses a virtual free-will that is projected on top of an unapologetically deterministic framework.

    This virtual free-will is watered down from the standard definition and is no longer free from influence, but is rather simply free from obvious coercion.  

    I am probably totally off base here, but it sounds like we are not in disagreement about the existence of free-will as defined by a freedom from influence, but rather you are advocating the idea that a belief in this thing that you tacitly acknowledge doesn’t truly exist, is somehow beneficial to individuals and by implication greater society and that this perceived benefit justifies believing in something that cannot exist.

    The argument that a belief in something that doesn’t exist yields benefits that outweigh the cost of our intellectual integrity sounds a lot like what someone might say if they believed that fear of god increases moral behavior.

    And furthermore to that point, I do not believe that belief in free-will increases human happiness.  Belief in free-will simply increases feelings of guilt and regret and blame and hate and revenge.  Eliminate or reduce these five things and you have a much better world.

    I think it is very difficult for someone clinging to free-will to clearly see the implications of a purely deterministic world view.

    Common objections include “what’s the point of living if everything’s determined?”

    I would say that it is similar to watching a movie or tv show or reading a novel.  Just because you know the ending is pre-determined, doesn’t make it any less interesting and compelling.

    Another objections is something like “how do I function without making free decisions in my daily life?”

    I have been living without the superstition of free-will quite nicely for about nine years now.  Not much has changed really, I just make the most informed decisions that I can based on my cumulative experiences.  The main upside I’ve noticed is that I no longer blame individuals for their actions.  I know that they are doing the best that they can with the hand they’ve been dealt.  I don’t need to take anything personally since anyone intending insult or injury to me is simply acting in the only way they know how.  This makes it easier for me to forgive and look at situations without being clouded by negative feelings.  Taking an insult from someone without free-will is like taking an insult from a two year old child.  You just feel sorry for them and try to understand why they feel that way instead of getting angry.

  • J03

    I appreciate your interjection but it sounds like what you are calling free-will is indistinguishable from what I would call a conscious willful decision.

    Free-will is not needed for someone to make a conscious willful decision.

    To further drive home this fact, I would like to point out that even if you were able to rewind time and replay the event and some quantum random element caused the event to play out differently even if only in some very minor way, this injection of randomness would in no way be compatible with the idea of free-will.  Because randomness is outside of our control and therefore outside the scope of your personal responsibility.

    The major problem with the standard definition of free-will is that it is supposed to account for your decision making ability and at the same time it is supposed to be free from previous influences.  A decision is something we make based on information.  To say that our fundamental identity (our free-will) is somehow free from influence (free from information) and that fundamental identity informs our decision making is ludicrous.  

    How can something that contains no information at the same time inform our decisions?

    namaste

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the feedback and support, anti-crowley.  I’ve followed this thread and a few in the past where you were rather prolific, and I must say, I find the position you place yourself in quite interesting.  It becomes clear in some of your postings that you are rather well educated, or at least well read.  You seem to have a firm grasp (from some other of your postings) or logic, rhetoric, and debate. And yet, you seem to almost set yourself up as the straw man your opponents wish you to be, pandering to their demagoguery.  I suppose that one can only take you at your word that you simply have no patience for political correctness or niceties in these debates and are intentionally provocative in order to cut to the heart of deeply held beliefs.  In any case, you certainly keep the discussion around here lively!

    As to the caricature you mention, I believe that you have hit the proverbial nail on its head.  However, I would go three steps further.  It seems to me that most or all of the ‘establishment’ religions are painted with the same broad (cartoonish) brush.  Secondly, it appears to me that many people (especially of the intelligentsia) are actually operating under the assumption that their caricature of some dude with a white beard zipping around on a cloud throwing lightning bolts (or whatever) is actually a fair and accurate description of these religions.  And thirdly, that therefore, anyone who really subscribes to and believes in these religions must be some sort of mentally stunted intellectual juvenile.  After all, most children stop believing in Santa and the tooth fairy around the age of 5!

    Ultimately I think that this unjust and patronizing attitude usually reflects ignorance or at least intellectual laziness.  And this is just the sort of thing that (it seems to me) the OP was attempting to address with the original post.  There is a wealth of intellectual heritage to be found in any of the ‘establishment’ religions, and many very smart people have genuinely believed.

    So here’s hoping that this discussion continues and that, perhaps, at least for the participants, some new intellectual ground can be tread!

  • Anonymous

    Clearly, it can’t. 

    The issue at stake here, really, seems to be the definition of free will.  If, as you say, the standard definition truly is that we can make decisions free of influence from any past event, then I would say that the standard person who made this standard claim is an idiot.  From my perspective, this is just another case of the common understanding of an issue or idea turning out to be no understanding at all.  And really, that this is a wrong definition.  Free will (again, I speak only for myself from my own understanding) rather speaks to the idea that I have a real and meaningful possibility to make a conscious willful decision – to use your own phrase.  And not only that, but that I could, should I desire to, make a different conscious willful decision.

    Now, I can certainly understand some frustration in that proving this wrong would require going back in time.  And even if it were true, it might not really mean anything anyways.  But I think to some extent you are overstating the case of what free will claims.  Now if you run into folk who get all heated over your deterministic stance, I would be willing to wager that they are confusing what you claim with PREdeterminism, and they would (if I follow you correctly) be overstating your case.

    Just a quick note on the quantum process affecting outcome.  You say that randomness is outside our control, and therefore outside our responsibility.  Quantum processes at work in my brain are no more uncontrollable than the chemical or electrical processes are.fundamentally, do we (the conscious being) have any control over even ourselves?

    Echoing my previous post, I do not believe determinism and free will to be inherently at odds, polar opposites, or mutually exclusive.  Your description of determinism sounds awfully like me description of free will.  Perhaps it is worth considering the issue in the light of the field that spawned it: theology.  Originally, (at least in the Judeo-Christian line of historical thought) the concept was used to show that humans were given the latitude to disobey the commands of god, which other beings were not given.  Considering that, I would say that it is certainly possible to constrain someone’s free will.  Afterall, if I have you straitjacketed and gagged, you can want whatever you want, but your range of possible actions is very limited.

    Thanks for the stimulating discussion

  • Andrew
  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the links Andrew.  Unfortunately, neither really deal with the issue to my satisfaction.  The multiverse is something of a side issue.  And the lynchpin idea of the second link, the one with the cute video, is that a system cannot have zero total energy.  It presupposes an extant universe (albeit very small) that is empty of matter.  However, as we all know, the universe, space, time, and energy are all somethings.  And are generally exchangeable at one level or another.  So, either there was no universe (actual nothingness, not just empty somethingness), from which the universe arose,or the uni/multiverse has in fact always existed.

    I don’t know that this particular bit of the larger thread can actually go anywhere, but it is such an interesting issue to ponder.

  • JoJoDancer

    No, I haven’t read that one.  That’s why I wasn’t sure how much of “Diary”–if any–is autobiographical.  I have read his “Confessions,” however, in which he is in constant search of “sugar” toward the end.  Crowley enjoyed many drugs–reefer, mescaline, heroin–as well as every weird combination of sexual partners one could imagine.  That doesn’t freak me out, but it does tell me a lot about what “do what thou wilt” meant to him.

    The best books that I’ve read by Crowley are “Magick in Theory and Practice” and “The Book of Lies.”  The former leaves the impression of a clear-headed occultist, the latter is a collection of intentionally head-spinning snippets.  In the end, both have an infernal spirit.

    One of the most relevant books I’ve read about Crowley is Gary Lachman’s “Turn Off Your Mind,” originally published by Disinfo.  Though it is not primarily about Crowley, it does chronicle his influence on the modern New Age movement in an entertaining way that really impressed me.  Anyone interested in Magick and Pop Culture should check it out.

  • emperorreagan

    I think they’re missing a little bit in the article.  Their thought experiment is better formulated as determinism versus indeterminism.  It’s a fair an argument against compitabilism.   Determinism doesn’t require that we’re capable of predicting events.  It does, however, require that everything is governed by deterministic laws.  A true stochastic process is indeterministic.  That is why there is not empirical evidence for determinism – there are processes that can be described well as either a chaotic system governed by deterministic laws, or as a semi-Markov process.  An argument either way between determinism versus indeterminism is still a philosophical argument and one that is actively debated both in philosophical circles as well as scientific circles (with many physicists of the last century weighing in one way or the other).

    Personally, I accept indeterminism over the likelihood of scientists finding more hidden variables and/or new laws ad infinitum.  

    And if you reject hard determinism, then compatibilism become irrelevant as an argument when considering free will.

  • J03

    The compatibilists view (to which you may subscribe) uses a virtual free-will that is projected on top of an unapologetically deterministic framework.

    This virtual free-will is watered down from the standard definition and is no longer free from influence, but is rather simply free from obvious coercion.  This makes it illusory as far as science is concerned and parsimony dictates that we dispose of the term entirely since free-from-obvious-coercion does not translate into the freedom from outside influence that is required to support the idea of personal moral responsibility.
    We have some apparent ability for self-modification, however our desire and ability to self-modify does not originate within our minds but is instead dictated by a combination of our experiences and our biology.  You can add or subtract any number of metaphysical factors if you please, however you cannot ever make a claim that some uninfluenced (devoid of information) mechanism informs our decision making ability.

    I like your point that free-will has historically been used to excuse god from the problem of evil.  This is why I find it so bizarre that so many people who call themselves atheists cling so strongly to this highly problematic and pointless canard.

    namaste

  • J03

    Ok, good point.  However indeterminism is even less compatible with free-will than determinism.

    If your actions are not causally linked to their (possibly random) consequences how can you be held morally responsible?

    Indeterminism simply injects some randomness into an otherwise straightforward cause and effect system.

    Since randomness is incompatible with conscious willful decision making, it has no bearing on the validity of free-will.

  • Anonymous

    I prefer Dill pickles….Yummy!!

  • J03

    I dispute your conclusion that if you knew the future it would give you the power to change it.

    The following movies are cited as examples of not being able to change a known future, they don’t count as evidence, they are merely illustrations.

    Minority Report, The Time Machine, Paycheck, and the popular TV show Flash Forward.

    I wish I had time to read your Hillary Bok excerpt, but the font is killing my eyes.

    None of this addresses the logical problems with the very definition of free-will which is the ability to make a conscious willful decision free from outside influences.

  • Anonymous

    And that makes less sense than an all powerful omnipresent super being somehow taking the general form of an adult male human appearing out of nothing how? 

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    I must apologize for being mildly confusing in my last reply (even though I was attempting to dispel it). I was speaking in a framework assuming pure determinism to be effectively true. In this I left the impression that I don’t believe free will exists. No, much like supervexi was saying, I do not (and noone in their right mind should) believe in free will in the sense that you are arguing against.

    You seem to be linking free will and morality a little more than you should. I could make as strong an argument against morality (albeit with some holes) as you are making against free will, albeit i still believe in both. As i established there is no reason to believe that someones will exists in a vacuum with no influence. In a morale sense it is difficult to blame someone for their will. This is until you actually insert a little reality into the picture. Deviant behavior does in fact exist. And whether free will does or doesn’t exist, and whether blame should or shouldn’t exist, the effects of deviance exists. We have to do something about it, and I think you would probably agree with me that rehabilitation would probably be the most effective way rather than incarceration.

    I find it funny that you continually call free will a superstition, and I think I’m starting to see why you are so threatened by it. I suppose the crux of my argument is this: even if we live in a deterministic reality, the human condition is fundamentally non deterministic, as limited by our perception. Without  the unpredictability of free will (even in my sense) you can deny this.

    “And furthermore to that point, I do not believe that belief in free-will increases human happiness.  Belief in free-will simply increases feelings of guilt and regret and blame and hate and revenge.  Eliminate or reduce these five things and you have a much better world”

    This comment I also found a little humorous. I never said, that free will increases human happiness, I said it was important. A brain implant that stimulated a pleasure center in the brain would increase happiness, but I would definitely say it isn’t important to humanity. Hell i’ll even say this: guilt, regret, blame, hate, revenge, sure they don’t increase human happiness(not how you would think at least) but I would say that each of them are important as well. Try to imagine a world without any of them. These things are all part of the human condition. Personally I like being human, the complexity is intriguing, and not to be afraid of. I wouldn’t want to live in a world where everyone was just a happy robot.

    “If you’re only hope is simply peace and love
    You end up discarding most of what you’re made of.”
    -bad religion, All Fantastic Images

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    “Free-will is not needed for someone to make a conscious willful decision.”

    You are not arguing against free will. Free will IS a conscious willful decision:

    Clearly you agree that will exist.Your issue is with the freedom of consciousness. Freedom of consciousness does not mean its extracting information from some superstitious/spiritual/ voidlike/ethereal or any other term you can think of like you keep trying to define it as… it is NOT the complete freedom from all experience, noone said that but you. It is the freedom to make a decision among different choices each of which have been arrived at through previous experiences(or thought).

    Okay lets say this. Only for sake of argument, lets say consciousness has something called “limited freedom”. It is limited because it can ONLY choose among the thoughts it has previously encountered through previous experiences or thoughts(necessary for creativity). This is opposed to “unlimited freedom” where it is free to choose among any possibility among anything that could possibly exist or be conceptualized. Of course the latter is nonsense, but this is in fact what you are arguing against when you define free will. I have always been using free in the “limited freedom” form, because the other form, which you are using as a strawman, is obvious nonsense.

    So, as supervexi stated, it is a problem of misconstrued definitions.

  • anti-crowley

    Point being that evolution’s claim to be the “common sense” world view is anything but.  I accept the premise of God’s existence based on things like universal human morality, the very existence of evil ect.  Things that the evolutionist can’t ultimately explain.  Sam Harris tries, but leaves gaps in his logic.  Many things have to be believed without direct proof in evolution, it requires just as much faith as any other world view.  Believe as you wish, but claiming to be the only rational community is not reality.

  • anti-crowley

    Flippant remark in attempt to re-energize thread? 

  • anti-crowley

    or anyone else who disagrees with you, that’s the norm around here.  Trust me, it is WAY easier to take that approach.  BTW TG, read the above post where I did address the self fulfilled point.  You are falling into the mudslinging arena, invalidating your entire article.  Basically what your article says is “I am sick of people slinging mud, because when it starts I can’t help but jump into it.”  I see plenty of mudslingers in here who don’t respond to anything, yet you failed to mention it.  You’re blatant bias against Christianity over any other system of belief has always been obvious.

  • emperorreagan

    Hard indeterminism also rejects free will.  Most of the arguments I find interesting about free will are made from a view of adequate determinism.  

    There are a variety of arguments that are made about free will from a perspective that rejects hard determinism.  Here are a couple:
    Robert Nozick, for example, argued that free will arises in our ability to weight different reasons for acting in different ways.  The reasons may be casually determined, but the weights we assign to each reason in weighing them against each other are not previously casually determined.  Basically weighting the options in the mind is an indeterministic event and breaks the strictly deterministic line of action.  There’s more to the argument than that, but I don’t have the book anymore.

    Peter Boyle makes the following argument:
    Freedom and determination occur in temporal sequence.  

    The free part occurs in considering alternative possibilities – which are generated unpredictably in the neural noise of our brains.  The will part provides deliberation and determination, actually directing the action.  So the present cloud of random alternatives leads to a choice.  All of those possible futures then become a single, unalterable past.  Ultimately, he is separating “free” from “will.”  The will is casually determined, but the freedom is the mind.

    There are a lot of other arguments from similar perspectives about where in the sequence of events indeterministic phenomena allow a break from strict deterministic paths.

    I personally don’t have a strong opinion either way.  I think free will is one of those frustrating ideas that’s occasionally interesting to think about.  It’s not something I’m conscious of in my daily life. 

      

  • J03

    Ok, I think we’re making some headway here.

    Look, if any part of your will is non-causal/non-determined/free-from-pre-existing-influence then that part, no matter how small, is generating something from nothing.

    I think we agree that your will is 99.99 percent informed/influenced by experience and biology.  The remainder is informed by unknown factors.  You seem to think that this influence-gap allows for some measure of freedom from influence but it does not.  We know with 100% certainty that the unknown factors that fill this gap are either causal factors we can’t currently measure, or randomness.

    Since randomness (by its very definition) is outside our ability to control, it does not provide any basis for free-will.  We cannot be held personally responsible for random acts.

    Obviously nobody can make a 100% free decision, otherwise we’d all be kings of our own realities.

    I am simply saying that no part of our will is free from influence.  The only alternative is randomness which also negates freedom of will.  Because randomness is antithetical to willful choice.

    If you like the term “free-will” and its associative concept of personal responsibility, you have to provide some plausible theory in which the will is in any part, however minuscule, free from both randomness and outside influences.  If you don’t do this, then we must agree that all willful decisions ultimately arise from factors that we have no control over, i.e. our biology, our formative experience and randomness. 

    I do very much appreciate your time and engagement in this discussion.

    namaste

  • J03

    If you don’t define free-will as free from outside influence, how do you define it?  What is the will free from?

    The only point of free-will is to justify individual morality.  Without free-will, individuals cannot be held ultimately responsible for their actions since they have no ultimate control of their actions.  Without ultimate control of one’s actions, the moral implications of those actions cannot rest with the individual.

    If you insert a little reality into the picture you might notice that animals don’t tolerate deviant behavior within a group and we see no need to project anything like free-will or even a concept of morality on them.

    A rabid dog exhibits deviant behavior and we have no problem dealing with cujo without the aid of concepts like morality or free-will.Rehabilitation is ideal, but when this is ineffective or unrealistic, incarceration is a natural alternative.  My point is that this incarceration does not need to be punitive but instead simply practical.

    I find it funny that atheists call religion superstition, and I think I’m starting to see why they are so threatened by it.

    I never meant to imply that determinism equals predictability.  Since every interaction and every element of reality is fundamentally unique, it makes perfect sense that the outcomes of these unique interactions would also be unique and as such ultimately (even if only in some minute way) unpredictable.

    Unpredictability exists independently from the concept of free-will.  In fact, free-will decisions are conceptually supposed to have a normative effect on outcomes being the the will is supposed to have a cohesive identity (moral character/code of ethics) on which its decisions are made.  This would seem to make free-will decisions more predictable instead of less predictable.  For instance if someone were to act “out of character” you might assume they were sick or drunk or otherwise being unduly influenced or coerced and not acting in their “right mind”.

    I find it a little humorous that someone would count themselves a proponent of guilt and regret and blame and hate and revenge.  I have imagined a world without them and it looks like clear thinking people addressing systemic problems in a humane and practical way.  People’s lives can be utterly destroyed by these things and for no good reason other than the false idea that they perhaps “could have acted otherwise”.  When you entertain the notion that they couldn’t possibly have acted otherwise, these destructive impulses appear at least pathological if not overtly psychotic.

    Maybe you’d be more comfortable being a happy elephant?

    There seem to be a lot of unhappy robots running amok these days.

    I tend to diverge philosophically from most rock bands.  I would simply say that like animals, we will likely always be subject to problems of some sort, but guilt and regret and blame and hate and revenge do not need to be counted among them and furthermore do not define all of humanity fundamentally.

    namaste

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    I’m tired of trying to do long winded well-thought out responses, you seem to miss my points, so i’m just going to start getting dismissive

    “If you don’t define free-will as free from outside influence, how do you define it?  What is the will free from?”Your problem is you think freedom has to be free “from” something as opposed to freedom “to do” something. just because there are things we are not free “from” does not mean we are not free “to do” things.

    “If you insert a little reality into the picture you might notice that animals don’t tolerate deviant behavior within a group and we see no need to project anything like free-will or even a concept of morality on them.”
    Are you arguing against morality here too? If denying free will led you to this, then you’re only supporting my case.

    “Unpredictability exists independently from the concept of free-will.  In fact, free-will decisions are conceptually supposed to have a normative effect on outcomes being the the will is supposed to have a cohesive identity (moral character/code of ethics) on which its decisions are made.  This would seem to make free-will decisions more predictable instead of less predictable.  For instance if someone were to act “out of character” you might assume they were sick or drunk or otherwise being unduly influenced or coerced and not acting in their “right mind”.”
    no

    “I find it a little humorous that someone would count themselves a proponent of guilt and regret and blame and hate and revenge.  I have imagined a world without them and it looks like clear thinking people addressing systemic problems in a humane and practical way.  People’s lives can be utterly destroyed by these things and for no good reason other than the false idea that they perhaps “could have acted otherwise”.  When you entertain the notion that they couldn’t possibly have acted otherwise, these destructive impulses appear at least pathological if not overtly psychotic.”
    You’re wrong, they exist for a reason; just because these things can be misplaced(and quite easily) does not mean they should be destroyed outright. Humans can be misguided, why not just kill em all because a majority of them are. Just because some aspects of the human condition are not clean, sterile, and predictable doesnt make them useless

    “There seem to be a lot of unhappy robots running amok these days.”When you are convinced that you are a robot, I’d imagine it would make you a bit depressed.”I tend to diverge philosophically from most rock bands.”It was a pertinent quote and I don’t like claiming ideas that don’t come directly from me. I will say there are a lot more thinkers out there than in the scientific realm, you should try branching out. You probably had a similar gut reaction to atheists that read anything that has a bible reference afterwards. “harumph! he doesnt have a phd!”  (actually.. wait… no if you really wanna know, the quote came from someone who DOES have a PhD.. but then you say “harumph! it wasnt in hard science! then i say, oh wait… theres no such thing as hard science in studying consciousness… then we argue some more)We won’t reach a real consensus until you understand the scaled effects of actually applying a belief to everyone as opposed to a hypothetical logical realm that you’ve created.(well it was still long winded, but i kept it from being well thought out this time)

  • J03

    The act of “weighting the options in the mind” is a deliberate act that relies on our accumulated experiences.  This deliberate willful act therefore can not be “free from influence”.
    If freedom only exists abstractly and separately from our will, I’m at a loss as to how that makes the will in any way free.  And furthermore, I’m not sure that even imagination is free, seeing as how it has obvious limitations.

    There are massive implications to consider if the concept of free-will is ejected from our cultural thinking.  This is why I take these discussions so seriously.

    namaste

  • emperorreagan

    I didn’t do a particularly good job of explaining Robert Nozick’s ideas.  There’s more to it than what I described.

    As to the idea of Boyle, which I consider more agreeable:
    The argument is that in part of your mind, you’re free to come up with alternative possibilities.
    These possibilities are deliberated and evaluated, then filtered through the collection of motives, reasons, etc. which leads to a determination of action.  

    And of course, the will itself is subject to being changed after deliberation and filtering of an idea.  And some philosophies would argue that this internal freedom to weigh ideas and formulate/change the set of motives and ideals that drive your will is the most important.

    I would say this: unconstrained, absolute free will does not exist.  Every person does not have access to every idea or the ability to pursue every course of action.  The imagination is bounded.  Our ability to perceive things is bounded.  Everything in life is bounded or constrained.  I don’t see recognition of constraints as necessarily indicating free will exists.

    To use a physical analogy: think of a 3 dimensional rigid object floating in space.  The object has 6 degrees of freedom.  It can rotate or translate along three orthogonal axes.  If you constrain it to motion in a 2-dimensional plan, it still has 3 degrees of freedom.

    The only way free will will be ejected from our cultural thinking is if someone provides empirical evidence that it does not exist – and belief in free will may persist even then, as the useful illusion some people already consider it.

  • J03

    I have made a point to express my appreciation for your time and effort.  Please do not feel that you are in any way obligated to continue this discussion if it is causing you even the slightest anxiety. 

    Ok, so your idea of free-will describes a deterministic chain of events (with a pinch of randomness) that we imagine may have more than one possible outcome.  And even though we never actually see any of these imagined outcomes materialize there’s really no reason to doubt their validity.  Kinda like how we can imagine unicorns and dragons and nobody doubts their validity.

    So at this point we really agree on everything except the validity of the term “free-will”.  And as far as I can tell you define “free-will” as “a conscious willful decision”.  I’ve heard free-will described as the mechanism that allows us to make “a conscious and willful decision” but I’ve never heard it defined as the decision itself.  I hope you can forgive me for not expecting you to have a unique definition of the term, but I’m glad we finally cleared that up.

    The crux of your argument seems to be that the concept of free-will makes us better people.  And I would point out that this is the same reasoning that people use to justify an otherwise indefensible belief in god.

    Free-will and morality are interdependent concepts.  If this is your case, I love supporting it.

    Unpredictability is associated with either ignorance or randomness.  Free-will claims to be neither of these.  So your claim that free-will instills unpredictability into our lives seems unjustified.

    I’m not advocating predictability.  I’m advocating either logical justification for free-will or dismissing it as superstition.

    Eliminating false concepts from my world-view is the opposite of depressing.

    I’ve never asked anyone for credentials, especially you.  I’m not sure what you’re on about with that last tangent.

    namaste

  • Anonymous

    JO3, allow me to respond to this post and also your more recent one in reply to Chaorder.

    It seems to me that at this point we have, at least between the three of us, settled on common definitions of what we mean by both free will and determinism.  And common understanding of terms is crucial to any debate so that people may talk about the same things without talking about different things.

    It seems to me that now, settled on common definitions, the crux of the issue is whether or not free will (as free from coercion and free to engage in various future actions) necessitates personal (moral) responsibility for those actions.  It seems that both Chaorder and myself take a compatabilist view along the lines of Hobbes.  And it seems to me that you can agree with our definition of free will but that you take a view similar to that of Schopenhauer, that you can will to do whatever you want, but that you can ONLY will to do whatever you want (and going back to the play/rewind analogy, you would always [and could only] will the same thing every time).  How then can we assign personal moral responsibility for actions taken?

    This is a deep and meaningful question.  The answer informs our decision as a society as how to deal with deviancy.  Do we incarcerate, rehabilitate, eliminate, or other?  This also leads into another, related, question that I have often pondered.  What is the proper function of our judicial/penal system?  It is clear that no single answer has been reached by the schizophrenic rulings and penalties handed down for various offenses.  Wherever one comes down on these two related issues, one cannot deny that whatever crime or deviancy may have been committed, it was committed by an individual.  Whatever external (and internal) deterministic events may have contributed to the act, it was the individual who acted.  The individual cannot be absolved of responsibility.  Perhaps, at some level, this responsibility can be shifted to the externalities however, it was still the individual that acted.  Even a malfunctioning clockwork object bears the consequences of its misactions by being fixed of destroyed.  So even a purely deterministic, anti-free-will point of view cannot say that deviancy should be ignored.

    I suppose at the end, it is something of a semantic or at least purely ideological debate.  We all can agree that deviancy cannot be tolerated.  It must be dealt with one way or another.  But how we deal with it, and where we assign ultimate blame are based upon ones position on this issue.  I haven’t a final answer to this question.  But as I come from the world view that accepts an all-powerful deity which empowered (at at least did not actively constrain our range of actions) us with the ability to choose different courses of action, I tend to imagine that there is some reality to the notion of free will, and that I actually can choose to either do something, or not do it.

    I would gather, JO3, based on your views, that you come from a position that does not accept the notion of an all-powerful deity that created us and gave us agency.  This (if a correct assessment) leads naturally to the idea that agency is a meaningless idea and that we are clockwork machines (however complex and complicated) that necessarily do only what we possibly can do in any given situation.

    I am not sure why Chaorder has wearied of this discussion, but I am glad for it.  Such civil and intellectual debate forces us to examine the hidden assumptions presuppositions that are the foundations for our worldviews and even if we don’t change position, it at least causes us to have a more elucidated and educated reason for having them.

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    I guess I’ll just say I’ve gotten weary because there are many (possibly countless) issues that are arising from the conversation with him stemming from his hyper-logical viewpoint. Maybe I’m taking it mildly personally because I used to think in that manner, until I eventually realized the paradoxical irrationality of being the perfect embodiment of rationality that J03 wishes to be.

    Its just been frustrating because I say less than half of what I think is needed to say for sake of brevity, but it just leads to more confusions when I just want to distill the conversation to the base of the arguments. You seem to be doing a better job than me though, keep up the good work.

  • TheYawningPreterist

    “Try money grubbing central banks and those in government who accept contributions to push legislation on their behalf.” Well, there you go…we actually agree on something. A miracle? I would not go that far…statistically, it was bound to happen eventually.  

    “Real quantum mechanics makes no claims about what occurs in those other dimensions, just that mathematically they can exist.” Exactly…they can exist and therefore, we can speculate about them. It is a thought experiment…an attempt to see things from an alternative perspective in order to gain additional insight into our own experience.    “The fact that the Bible’s predictions would be so difficult to cause to happen all at the same time 2,000 years afterward is just as astounding” What is astounding is that you make fun of a movie like What the Bleep (which again, we actually agree upon, as being ludicrous) while simultaneously embracing the preposterous notion that any of the so-called “prophecies” from the Bible contain even an ounce of legitimacy… 
    Again, from a Preterist’s point of view, ALL of these prophecies have already been fulfilled. And from a logical point of view, you completely refuse to acknowledge the role which self-fulfillment can play in making any of them “come true”. Is the Farmer’s Almanac prophetic? Is Philip K. Dick prophetic?   

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    Mama Gradient is a saint! I’m bringing up the original issue simultaneously comparing you to hitler.

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    “lol”

  • Tuna Ghost

    Many things have to be believed without direct proof in evolution, it requires just as much faith as any other world view.

    This is categorically false.  There is ample evidence for evolution.  Aside from micro-evolution being directly observed, there are ways to test hypotheses and make predictions–for instance, for a long time people theorized that if the ideas about dinosaurs and birds were correct, then there would have to evidence of dinosaurs having feathers–which was then found.  Make no mistake, evolution is not a “theory” in the same sense that creationism is a theory.  There is a great deal of proof for it.  

  • Tuna Ghost

    Many things have to be believed without direct proof in evolution, it requires just as much faith as any other world view.

    This is categorically false.  There is ample evidence for evolution.  Aside from micro-evolution being directly observed, there are ways to test hypotheses and make predictions–for instance, for a long time people theorized that if the ideas about dinosaurs and birds were correct, then there would have to evidence of dinosaurs having feathers–which was then found.  Make no mistake, evolution is not a “theory” in the same sense that creationism is a theory.  There is a great deal of proof for it.  

  • Andrew

    Micro-evolution is to macro-evolution what inches are to miles.  One necessarily means the other.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Species_problem

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonabitstream Jon Anderson

    I offer something I recently read and saw in a documentary: the coming “Singularity” and ideas about why it is happening. I’m reading “The Suicide Note” wherein the author strongly suggests that even though god doesn’t exist, we all understand god should exist and in fact that is exactly what we’re up to as we approach that Singularity. We are creating god.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonabitstream Jon Anderson

    What if god just isn’t interesting anymore? I’ve listened to stuff from the Christians and stuff from the scientists all my life and find no comparison; science’s stories are a thrill. They are inspiring. Christian stories feel dusty, dry, and mean. Could our ever more persistent debate be evidence of our species’ slowly evolving away from purely imaginary explanations for reality, towards an increasing interest in perpetually tested/improved explanations?

    Only fear, it seems to me, can inspire faith in things that contradict overwhelming experience to the contrary. I suspect it’s the big reason the time period after the fall of Rome/The Plague is labelled “The Dark Ages”. Them folk was sceered! 

    America seems riven by fear now as well. There seems no better way to explain the American Tea Party than the destructive effects of fear.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonabitstream Jon Anderson

    What if god just isn’t interesting anymore? I’ve listened to stuff from the Christians and stuff from the scientists all my life and find no comparison; science’s stories are a thrill. They are inspiring. Christian stories feel dusty, dry, and mean. Could our ever more persistent debate be evidence of our species’ slowly evolving away from purely imaginary explanations for reality, towards an increasing interest in perpetually tested/improved explanations?

    Only fear, it seems to me, can inspire faith in things that contradict overwhelming experience to the contrary. I suspect it’s the big reason the time period after the fall of Rome/The Plague is labelled “The Dark Ages”. Them folk was sceered! 

    America seems riven by fear now as well. There seems no better way to explain the American Tea Party than the destructive effects of fear.

  • wjvillines.com

    You are missing several points of interest:

    Question: How does biology create a demand for a person to be spiritalist (as in believing in some kind of authority that does not provide ready evidence for science).

    Answer: Recent discoveries with regard to the Human Brain show that the Human Being must be spiritually alligned in some way or another. This is not about having wishful thought but is an emerging scientific body of knowledte as the human brain as specific areas that are present and active during times of spirtual involvement.

    To your statement of why people need “religion,” the best aproach is to talk about the practice of flying a kite. Imagine a simple square kite has been made with kite string attacked. You have a person attempting to fly it but cannot get the kite very far off the ground before it tumbles back down and crashes – why? because there is no tail. The spiritual aspect is like a kite tail, it stablizes the kite’s responces to the environment to allow it to stay aligned for flight.

    The Human mind can function without spirituallity, but because it has nothing to discern right and wrong, the spiritual is needed.

    The notion that Athiests are not spiritualistic is also in error because of their ready embrace of spiritual concepts of Love.

    Love is a concept that requires a spiritual “kite tail” to understand and work with.

    Love is something that is intangible and undefinable of its own accord. In religion, it is described with regards to behaviors people perform with respect of the one they “Love”. To love is also a choice being made that embraces a deep determined commitment to the one a person “loves”. It is not something that comes as a matter of accidents any more than you can have an accidental pregnancy or accidental sex. Imagine the chain of events that would have to occur to be an “accidental sexual encounter” or “accidental pregnancy”.

    Senario for accidental sex and pregnancy:

    U.S. Navy Degenderized berthing compartent with a male in a bunk over a woman who is currently bent over the bed while being fully unclothed for some reason. The man is currently fully arroused for enough time that he is a few seconds away from a climax when he decideds to quickly get up and go releave himself in the head (bathroom) and not realizing the woman is there.

    He manages to drop down from his bunk without hitting the woman in any way, facing her just as a heavy wave rolls the ship so they both lung forward with the man falling directly on top of the woman so his penis penitrates her vagina causing the final impitus that causes his release just in time to allow a birthcontrol free egg to be activated by one of his lucky sperm. 

    – not gonna happen ever.

    Atheists still “marry” even when they don’t believe that marriage is more that a financial or social arrangement. Marriage is a “Religious” life function designed to place child rearing into a ‘structured’ environment and has no other function within society. In an atheistic world, why not just have sex when and with whom you want. Since the laws are created by the will of men, and there are in many parts of the United States, enough people that the majority could claim the right to their prefered laws, why not allow blacks, or jews, or hispanics or native americans be killed by the hundreds? this is a moral issue that religion provides an anchor for (thou shalt not kill) that is outside the authority of the people.

    As individuals, we are biologically required to be spiritual which is why those who claim to be atheists eventually develop some kind of spirituallity (whether they look at a stone and say they see the face of God or not). As societies, we require a higher set of rules that are not mutable by the will of people to aid in behavioral control and to challenge evolution in the only way evolution has an true “scientific” evidence — intellectual development.

    Atheists use the claim that there is no evidence for a “Creator” only because the choose not to see the evidence, which is in the same evidence they use to say we developed from the ameoba. Evolutionists cannot point to any “evolutionary evidence” with a degree of valitity that is not able to be claimed by Astrologists, who are denied by mainstream “scientists” as being science at all because they don’t actually have testable theories, just as evolution is not testable (As soon as you set up a test for evolution, you place all results in the category of Intelligent Design, which is also misrepresented in the debate between intelligent design vs evolution.

    In fact, the true Intelligent Design Theory can use every single piece of evidence that evolution uses, with an even better degree of testable proof. You have heard of a body of science called Genetic Engineering? Same thing. Genetic Engineering is the development of a desired lifeform by the willfull manipulation of the genetic properties of living organizms already in existance, and Intelligent Creation of Life is just the next step from that and it is currently within the ability to create life itself using our current body of knowledge:

    Already, Biologists are able to craft the cellular container that is the wall of a cell. They can create an active virus that can modify the genectic codes of any life form to gain desired results (gene therepy). Viruses are simply one half of a DNA sequincer — once they find a way to put several together in a cooperative maner so as to develop a true DNA structure of original design, they will have created a living organizm. It is now doable, although I don’t think I would like the result of such a life form getting loose as we could only make the crudest form, which we problably don’t have a biological means to resist — a superpandemic could occur.

    This actual “practical science” give greater credence to the theory of Intelligent Design, which only states that life advances with the willful application of genetic manipulation to obtain a desired biological result.

    It is up to individuals to adapt that to any “religious” thought on origin. Science, however should be able to accept the Theory Of Intelligent Design whithout any theophoic reactions. That is why Atheists who embrace evolution are spiritually “religious.” Because a) they are biologically predisposed to spirituallity. B) they have placed a belief that is unsubstantiated by testable theory in an unscientific theory (evolution) where they feel no real compulsion to try to test (because it cannot be done). C) They feel threatened by any idea that challenges their thoughts on the order of the universe so that d) they refuse to entertain any other idea which is what moves them from a spiritualist minded to religious because of the “ordered” existance they obtain by adherance in their beliefs of accidentally evolved intelligence.

  • wjvillines.com

    You are missing several points of interest:

    Question: How does biology create a demand for a person to be spiritalist (as in believing in some kind of authority that does not provide ready evidence for science).

    Answer: Recent discoveries with regard to the Human Brain show that the Human Being must be spiritually alligned in some way or another. This is not about having wishful thought but is an emerging scientific body of knowledte as the human brain as specific areas that are present and active during times of spirtual involvement.

    To your statement of why people need “religion,” the best aproach is to talk about the practice of flying a kite. Imagine a simple square kite has been made with kite string attacked. You have a person attempting to fly it but cannot get the kite very far off the ground before it tumbles back down and crashes – why? because there is no tail. The spiritual aspect is like a kite tail, it stablizes the kite’s responces to the environment to allow it to stay aligned for flight.

    The Human mind can function without spirituallity, but because it has nothing to discern right and wrong, the spiritual is needed.

    The notion that Athiests are not spiritualistic is also in error because of their ready embrace of spiritual concepts of Love.

    Love is a concept that requires a spiritual “kite tail” to understand and work with.

    Love is something that is intangible and undefinable of its own accord. In religion, it is described with regards to behaviors people perform with respect of the one they “Love”. To love is also a choice being made that embraces a deep determined commitment to the one a person “loves”. It is not something that comes as a matter of accidents any more than you can have an accidental pregnancy or accidental sex. Imagine the chain of events that would have to occur to be an “accidental sexual encounter” or “accidental pregnancy”.

    Senario for accidental sex and pregnancy:

    U.S. Navy Degenderized berthing compartent with a male in a bunk over a woman who is currently bent over the bed while being fully unclothed for some reason. The man is currently fully arroused for enough time that he is a few seconds away from a climax when he decideds to quickly get up and go releave himself in the head (bathroom) and not realizing the woman is there.

    He manages to drop down from his bunk without hitting the woman in any way, facing her just as a heavy wave rolls the ship so they both lung forward with the man falling directly on top of the woman so his penis penitrates her vagina causing the final impitus that causes his release just in time to allow a birthcontrol free egg to be activated by one of his lucky sperm. 

    – not gonna happen ever.

    Atheists still “marry” even when they don’t believe that marriage is more that a financial or social arrangement. Marriage is a “Religious” life function designed to place child rearing into a ‘structured’ environment and has no other function within society. In an atheistic world, why not just have sex when and with whom you want. Since the laws are created by the will of men, and there are in many parts of the United States, enough people that the majority could claim the right to their prefered laws, why not allow blacks, or jews, or hispanics or native americans be killed by the hundreds? this is a moral issue that religion provides an anchor for (thou shalt not kill) that is outside the authority of the people.

    As individuals, we are biologically required to be spiritual which is why those who claim to be atheists eventually develop some kind of spirituallity (whether they look at a stone and say they see the face of God or not). As societies, we require a higher set of rules that are not mutable by the will of people to aid in behavioral control and to challenge evolution in the only way evolution has an true “scientific” evidence — intellectual development.

    Atheists use the claim that there is no evidence for a “Creator” only because the choose not to see the evidence, which is in the same evidence they use to say we developed from the ameoba. Evolutionists cannot point to any “evolutionary evidence” with a degree of valitity that is not able to be claimed by Astrologists, who are denied by mainstream “scientists” as being science at all because they don’t actually have testable theories, just as evolution is not testable (As soon as you set up a test for evolution, you place all results in the category of Intelligent Design, which is also misrepresented in the debate between intelligent design vs evolution.

    In fact, the true Intelligent Design Theory can use every single piece of evidence that evolution uses, with an even better degree of testable proof. You have heard of a body of science called Genetic Engineering? Same thing. Genetic Engineering is the development of a desired lifeform by the willfull manipulation of the genetic properties of living organizms already in existance, and Intelligent Creation of Life is just the next step from that and it is currently within the ability to create life itself using our current body of knowledge:

    Already, Biologists are able to craft the cellular container that is the wall of a cell. They can create an active virus that can modify the genectic codes of any life form to gain desired results (gene therepy). Viruses are simply one half of a DNA sequincer — once they find a way to put several together in a cooperative maner so as to develop a true DNA structure of original design, they will have created a living organizm. It is now doable, although I don’t think I would like the result of such a life form getting loose as we could only make the crudest form, which we problably don’t have a biological means to resist — a superpandemic could occur.

    This actual “practical science” give greater credence to the theory of Intelligent Design, which only states that life advances with the willful application of genetic manipulation to obtain a desired biological result.

    It is up to individuals to adapt that to any “religious” thought on origin. Science, however should be able to accept the Theory Of Intelligent Design whithout any theophoic reactions. That is why Atheists who embrace evolution are spiritually “religious.” Because a) they are biologically predisposed to spirituallity. B) they have placed a belief that is unsubstantiated by testable theory in an unscientific theory (evolution) where they feel no real compulsion to try to test (because it cannot be done). C) They feel threatened by any idea that challenges their thoughts on the order of the universe so that d) they refuse to entertain any other idea which is what moves them from a spiritualist minded to religious because of the “ordered” existance they obtain by adherance in their beliefs of accidentally evolved intelligence.

  • wjvillines.com

    It is facinating to see how people change to different words to try and change how they are viewed.

    micro-evolution, as you call it, is not evolution. It has been proven in genetic studies that each genetic structure has a wide range of variabilities that allow for the same genetic structure to produce wide variety of the species — such as a blue flowered pea plant vs a white flowered pea plant — this is refered to as genetic adaptation and there has never been a conflict between religious views and adaptation as it is plain as day. The part in evolution’s theory is that they lap this adaptation in to the change in speciation which is where you get biologicaly differernt species that may appear close but cannot truly cross into the same species such as the donkey and the horse who have only a single genetic variation that allows offspring which cannot successfully reproduce themselves.

    The theory of Intelligent Design also does not preclude the use of the genetic variability as a tool to allow genetic stabelization of life that is released into any given ecosphere.

    I think one of the biggest barriors to overcome all the disagreements is the “scientific process” is itself not stablized by the world of science. Take a look at any modern science texts and you will find that they define a hypothesis with such an identical manner as theory that people get the two mixed up in the media and therefore, at large

    As it was taught back in the 1980s and before (when the grip of theophobia in government institutions was not really present) and they used to teach such things as Greek Mythologies and Plato and Shakespear was taught in english classes (that was fading even when I was going to high school – by which time it was only G(ifted) A(nd) I(ntelligent) T(raining) that got those courses. That was when they also used to teach that a Hypothesis is an Educated Guess while a Theory was an Educated Guess that is able to stand up to testing. Testing is not speculation. Understand what you described as a “method to test hypothesis” such as evolution, that is calls prophesy (making predictions based on known data) and we have loads of them being done. Perhaps you have heard of Nostrodaumus? He has predicted many things that later have appeared to come true. That does not make it a valid test of a theory.

    Astrology has many of their predictions come true as to human behavior, but scientists dismiss it as pseudoscience because it aclaims a “spiritual” element. But if you actually do just a little research into astrology you will find that what it at its core is psychology. Think about it, often we associate Astrology to Astronomy, but its true core is a study of human behaviors based on a cause and effect study of external influences (which are based on valid scientific notions such as Magnetic Fields having a unique pull on iron (in our blood) and so forth).

    A test is a controled environment where one monitors the consequences of actions. Mathmatical modeling is not adequate to quallify as any kind of test. Find a good competent mathmatician and ask them if they can provide the mathmatical model that places the Earth at the heart of the universe where all things revolve around it, and they will tell you it can be done. Its complicated but it HAS been done. With math, any thing can be shown.

    Predictions and Math does not constitute testing. Take a boweling ball and a ping pong ball to 200 feet high and drop them at the same time, watching to see which will hit first — that is testing. Evolution cannot do that as the interference turns it into “intelligent design” because of an intelligent interference.

    Can you tell me the name of the Evolved Fruit Fly that has been bred in the more than 100 years of scientific raising of fruit flys? They are used because of their short life cycle resulting in many generations within a single year. Within the laboratory setting they have ALL their needs met to a plush and cushy level. These ideal conditions should have done more than increase their numbers or size. Has there been a report of a fruit fly suddenly having a more complex eye? or a reduced smell ability since they don’t need to smell long distances with food brought to them? They would be the place evolution evidence would probably be seen first (or over looked).

    There is evidence of animals developing differnet behavioral traits (chimpanses that do the homo dances and wall with a more up right fashion) that some are touting as evidence of evolution – neglecting the fact that the higher the intellect of the life form, the more impact on the mind abuses will have.

    Mankind has been taking chimpanzees out of their environment, experimenting both geneticly and psychosocially, and some take them as pets (some for sexual toys). Then when we are done, we take them back to the forest and put them back into the wild. They get taken back for a short time. Nature does not accept deviations (also proven by observation of many life forms) so these chimps would be ousted. They would also likely find eachother and form their own protective group and adapt their behavior to the last time they felt safe (with humans – Walking up right, sexual misbehaviors picked up from their handlers, etc.) and pass the behaviors to the subsequent generations who would not have any knowledge of the mistreatments.

    After fifty years — they would seem to be a natural phenom.

    Too often this is the way modern science progresses, with misrepresentation of what is being found because it suites the desire for money or promotes an evolutionary theory — worse is that the proofs that are debunked are quickly touted as evidence again, ignoring the sciencetific debunking.

  • Andrew

    It seems to me you’re the one changing words to change how things are viewed.  You might want to read the link I provided earlier about the Species Problem, and then http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_species

  • http://www.facebook.com/Neuropagan Alex Patterson

    Easy way to settle it is to have the debate using Alfred Korzybski’s rules of general semantics.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Neuropagan Alex Patterson

    Easy way to settle it is to have the debate using Alfred Korzybski’s rules of general semantics.

  • http://www.facebook.com/r.talmadge.lacy R. Talmadge Lacy

    Tuna Ghost is trying to be the voice of tolerance and reason. The same person who shits on my articles like it’s a bodily function. But let’s not dwell on the past. . .

  • http://www.facebook.com/r.talmadge.lacy R. Talmadge Lacy

    Tuna Ghost is trying to be the voice of tolerance and reason. The same person who shits on my articles like it’s a bodily function. But let’s not dwell on the past. . .

  • Tuna Ghost

    Thank you.  For a minute I thought I was the only person who saw that garbage.

  • J03

    I’ve offered the examples of the mad dog and the engine that has blown a gasket to illuminate how obvious it would be to deal with deviant behavior in the absence of free-will colored glasses.

    Certainly we have to deal with bad behavior.  But let’s make this a practical rather than a moral exercise.

    I also tried to point out earlier that any omniscient, omnipotent, creator god could not be free of its own nature and therefore could not make free choices.  Even this god could not “give” us free-will, since free-will is a logical contradiction.  Furthermore, if god was the only thing in existence before everything was created, all of creation must be formed from pieces of god.  We must then conclude that god is everything and everything is god.  This means exactly as much or as little as you think it does.

    I advocate the elimination of free-will from our cultural vocabulary because I believe it contributes significantly to destructive thoughts, feelings, and ultimately actions from guilt, regret, blame, hate, and revenge.

    A appreciate your contribution to this discussion.

    namaste

  • J03

    I guess it’s that last part that I’m so puzzled by.

    Why do (many) atheists, who demand proof positive of god’s existence, persist in clinging to a notion of free-will without demanding proof positive of its existence?

    No part of a willful decision can be free from influence, and randomness is antithetical to the concept of choice.

    All things are some combination of either caused or random precedents.  There is no escape.

    Ipso-facto, no free will.

    namaste

  • Anonymous

    I agree with you that deviancy can be dealt with outside the moral framework of free will.  I thought I was pretty clear on this point but perhaps not.  I do not think we can make a rational and logical argument that free will exists as a necessity for our condition.  But to make this practical and not moral:

    It seems that your ultimate problem with the idea of free will is the moral responsibility entailed, and then ensuing (and appropriate) feelings of guilt, regret, sorrow.  I know that you also list blame, hate, and revenge, but I would argue that a position of personal moral responsibility makes us owners of our emotions and actions (rather than just being along for the ride) and as such would dissuade these feelings, or at least actions based on them.

    In fact, it seems to me, that even a atheistic, determinist can agree that guilt and regret are powerful behavioral modifiers, and could be seen as biology’s (or evolution’s) way of regulating deviancy within the individual.

    As a brief aside, and in response to your third paragraph, please allow me to respond to a few points.  I’m afraid that you may be overstating your case, or making hasty logical leaps. 

    “any omniscient, omnipotent, creator god could not be free of its own
    nature and therefore could not make free choices.” 
      Why not?  Wouldn’t a creator god that was omniscient and omnipotent, by definition, be able to do anything?  And who is to say what its nature is?  Perhaps its nature is to make free choices.  I don’t know, and I rather doubt that anyone else (to include you) knows much more.

    “Even this god could
    not “give” us free-will, since free-will is a logical contradiction.” 
      Perhaps I missed a point you made before, if so please excuse my inattentiveness.  However, I would greatly appreciate elucidation.

    “Furthermore, if god was the only thing in existence before everything
    was created, all of creation must be formed from pieces of god.” 
      Here you premise both the nature of god, and also god’s capabilities or abilities.  First, you assume god is a thing.  Most theists I have encountered, would claim that god is immaterial.  Thus negating the rest of the argument.  Even if god were material though, you assume that god has no ability to actually create something from nothing, only the ability to create something from something else.  Otherwise, your logic would not stand up to even the most basic scrutiny.

    It seems to me (and I could be wrong, as you have yet to come out and state exactly your views beyond free will) that we hold divergent, even opposing, foundational worldviews.  And further, that these antagonistic views inform our interpretations and beliefs/positions on a variety of issues, to include free will,  I premise the existence of an all-powerful creator god, and conclude with all that this entails.  It would appear that you reject this premise, and therefore the conclusions as well.

    One final thought.  In a humanistic, deterministic, and atheistic world: morality and ethics can exist, but they are not fixed and immutable.  This being the case, if a person commits some unspecified deviancy, and feels good about it, and was unable to NOT do it (doubtless there are many others with the same deviancy, given the ~6 billion people on the planet), what right has the majority to punish it?  We already see many things in our society that were once considered to be deviancies reach acceptance and popularity.  I feel that this trend will continue and accelerate.  Whether right or wrong (assuming that these words have any real meaning) eventually society reaches a point where there is no legitimacy in dealing with any deviancy.

    Dogs may deal with deviancy, but I doubt anyone would advocate a return to brutal nature, where the deviant are murdered or exiled without a second thought, and there is no consideration for situation, or feelings, or anything else.

    In any case, I am starting to ramble on.  Thanks again for the debate, you are certainly challenging me to sharpen my own views and evidences, and I certainly enjoy the intellectual sparring!

  • Tuna Ghost

    Other than select mormons, the scientologists, and maybe some jehova’s witnesses, I think you’d be hard pressed to find “believers” who fit your description. 

    Not true, sir.  When asked for an example of prayer being an effective means of change, they’ll give a completely natural (as opposed to supernatural) explanation and then say “…God willed that to happen”.  When god acts, according to them, it manifests itself through completely natural means.  Nobody believes god is going to be zooming around on a cloud throwing lightning bolts at people or picking them up via telekinesis and hurling them into a lake of fire created by the earth tearing open, his will (allegedly) manifests itself through seemingly normal phenomenon.  

  • Tuna Ghost

    this would be the technological Singularity the transhumanists are always on about, correct?

  • Andrew

    I think they deal with the issue exactly by offering evidence that something has always existed, even though this universe hasn’t.  I don’t think any scientist or atheist can (or does?) argue that the universe arose from actual nothingness.

  • Anonymous

    It is certainly interesting to note that the transhumanists, many new-age spiritualists, esoteric fraternists, christian fundamentalists, and many more all see a rapidly nearing major event.  All interpret this event through the lens of their own particular views, but there does seem to be a growing awareness or anticipation of SOMETHING that is about to happen.  Daniel Pinchebeck has a book out, “2012” that details much of this from a particular shamanistic point of view.  Regardless of one’s own beliefs, I think that most people could agree that we are on some sort of precipice. 

    Whether a consciousness shift, a new age, gnostic enlightenment, the end times, or something else is on the other side remains to be seen.

  • Tuna Ghost

    All that text and not a bit of it addresses what I wrote.  

  • Nuggett

    After reading through roughly 260 posts in response to this article, I am very glad to see that the religious debate has been officially cleaned up.  

    Nice job guys!

    • Tuna Ghost

      aw you don’t gotta rub it in

  • Nuggett

    After reading through roughly 260 posts in response to this article, I am very glad to see that the religious debate has been officially cleaned up.  

    Nice job guys!

  • J03

    It’s nice we can agree that belief in free-will is not integral to an orderly society.

    Guilt and regret can sometimes seem to lead to work towards redemption but more often seems to lead to bitterness, defensiveness, and self-loathing.  Reducing these blame factors would have a net positive effect in my opinion.  Although eliminating false beliefs should be its own reward.

    Our concept of free-will is based on the idea that we make decisions.  Decisions (weighing possible consequences) are only possible if the exact consequences are unknown.  An OOC (omniscient, omnipotent, creator) god would know all consequences and therefore could not make a “decision” (god could not weigh possible consequences) in the sense that we normally think.  God’s “choice” would be constrained by god’s knowledge of the precise consequences of everything.  God could only make the “best” choice, and since god is presumably “perfect”, that narrows the field of possible outcomes down to one.  An OOC god does not have free-will.

    An OOC god cannot give anything “free-will”.  God cannot create anything that contradicts god’s will.  If a non-god could fuuk-up god’s plan, then god could not be described as omnipotent or omniscient.  Here’s the rub, god presumably made the non-god and at that moment, gave the non-god all of the drives and desires and capabilities that non-god will ever have.  God also knows every action that non-god will take in its life and why, and the exact time and circumstances of its death.  If god cannot account for these drives and desires and capabilities and deduce the consequences of the non-gods very existence, then god can not be considered omniscient or omnipotent.

    An OOC god cannot “do anything imaginable”.  An OOC god can only do god’s will.  An OOC god can do anything god wants, however, presumably what god wants is what’s best for all of us and god must therefore act to make everything perfect.  An OOC god is strictly constrained by god’s will.

    An OOC god cannot make something from nothing.  Now this is tricky, so I’ll do my best to be clear:

    In the beginning, only the OOC god exists.  Not even “nothingness” exists.  Only the OOC god.  Now at some point the OOC god decides to make a bunch of stuff.  There is nothing to make it out of.  Aha!! you say, god makes it out of god’s imagination!!  Well, that ain’t “nothing”.  Remember, there is no “nothing” until god decides to make “nothing”.  We’ve established that only god exists at this point.  There is only one place for all this stuff to come from, and that is god.  Period.  Ok but let’s assume god makes “nothing” and then makes that into stuff.  Regardless of what god makes stuff out of, god can only make perfect things and therefore everything is perfect.  Perfect things are in harmony with god and therefore everything is in perfect harmony with god and as such an extension of god’s will and as such, part of god.

    Anyway, that should give you something to chew on.

    A practical code of ethics will mutate with technology and social norms.  There is nothing frightening about this.  This pretty much happens anyway, albeit with a lot of out-dated taboos getting dragged along and causing too much collateral damage for my tastes.

    Early humans had pretty brutal codes of ethics as well, I’d like to think we can continue to move forward.

    Oh, right, you keep indirectly asking me for my world-view.  I consider myself a taoist.

    Thank you for sharing your ideas with me in this convenient format.

    namaste

  • chubby

    oh gosh all these posts and here is a nice orderly piece of truth…

  • Tuna Ghost

    aw you don’t gotta rub it in

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/JOon-Hancocky/100001984456337 JOon Hancocky

    There’s a lot of perfectly good discourse about religion going, you just have to get past atheists being upfront, and get past creationists being liars.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/JOon-Hancocky/100001984456337 JOon Hancocky

    There’s a lot of perfectly good discourse about religion going, you just have to get past atheists being upfront, and get past creationists being liars.

  • emperorreagan

    If you toe the line that you will only believe things following positive empirical proof, as well as accepting the other philosophical tenets of strong atheism, then you are certainly correct, the idea of free will should be rejected. Arguments about free will are by their nature speculative, dealing with systems theory, emergence, irreducibility, and countless other open-ended topics alongside the philosophical discussions.

    After writing a different response to someone else and considering it some more, I’ve come to the following conclusion: expecting an atheist to be aware of and accept all of the philosophical underpinnings of their position is probably about as reasonable on as when I used to expect religious people to be aware of and accept all of the full doctrine and practice of their churches.  For some people, the only toe the line on a handful of issues.  Perhaps an atheist toes the proof-positive line on the existence of a deity, but strays elsewhere.  Likewise, a common position I’ve found among people in my parents’ church is that they toe the church’s line on abortion, but still think the death penalty is a good idea.  

    Like everyone else, the atheist is going to create their own framework from many sources.

    I also think that you also need to consider why a person identifies as an atheist.  How and why did they come to that position?  Are they a strong atheist, a weak atheist, or really just agnostic?
     

  • JJC

    Well, it depends on what definition of free will you’re using. For instance there are countless arguments (the basic argument, the cosmological argument, argument from causality, and the list goes on) that ontologically free will can’t exist, in the sense that someone has complete control over everything they do. However, that is different from the compatabilist’s definition of free will which varies but essentially is along the lines of being morally culpable to some extent for one’s actions. It’s a subtle argument and it certainly isn’t how (free will) libertarians conceive of free will. 

    It’s much easier if you want to take the time and read this next bit:
    A Brief Overview of the Free Will Debate

    One of the most important and fundamental questions in philosophical literature is whether or not free will exists. It has long been discussed from both the perspective that asserts that we do, in fact, have free will and those who disagree with this assertion. Currently there are several schools of thought of note, libertarianism, compatabilism, and hard determinism. Over the course of this essay I will explore these various schools of thought by drawing on class readings and providing my own insights.
    Libertarianism is the school of thought that comes most naturally to individuals when they think about how the world works. Libertarians think that individuals have a will which is itself uncaused and fundamentally free. The best way to conceptualize it is to look at the will as an uncaused cause. Essentially, instead of particles interacting and giving rise to the will, the will is a separate immaterial element that effects reality in such a way as to produce a decision or make a choice. When we reason morally we often appeal to this conception of the will to justify punishment. We typically say that someone chose to do something rather than saying that they were caused to do something. For instance, if I go to an individuals house, break in, and proceed to steal there possessions, that individual and the legal system view it as me choosing to go and do those things. By saying that I did those things it is implicitly being suggested that I had the ultimate choice of doing what I did. This means that if it was possible to recreate the entire universe at the time that I choose to do the aforementioned stealing, then it would be possible for me to decide against doing that action through exercising my immaterial will. This allows me to be the sole author of my behaviors rather than a mere result of physical processes. Sole authorship allows individuals to make judgments on my behavior and assign blame to me, because I, by exercising my will, caused the event to happen (Campbell 377). Although this view is very convenient and easy to reason morally with there are problematic aspects too.
    When we think about causality we typically do so by thinking about chains of causation. Essentially these are the unbroken chains of events that happen over the passing of time. For example, a billiard table is an intuitive system that demonstrates chains of causality. When a player strikes the cue ball from the starting position the cue imparts a force onto the ball. This force sends the ball careening towards the rest of the balls, which, when struck, fly apart. These balls are bouncing around the table and its fairly easy to predict where they will go because they move in relatively straight lines and when they come in contact with other things they bounce off with predictable angles. This scenario is an example of a causal chain, the cue hitting the ball imparts a force to begin the chain and it ends when the balls lose their momentum. What libertarianism suggests is that independent of the causal chain that was started when the cue ball was struck the will can interject an affect chain in the causal chain. For instance, if we think of the billiard game as an analog of human thought processes, then libertarianism suggests that at any time, by exercising my will, I can change how the billiard balls will bounce off of each other. The problem with this view lies exactly in this contracausal freedom, it is hard to imagine a system that could work this way because we never encounter one in the world around us.
    Libertarianism, though very intuitive and accessible, has a tension with the concept of how we think about causality in the traditional sense. We typically view causality in the forms of unbroken chains, but when we add in a contracausal free will these chains are no longer unbroken.
    Hard determinism provides the counterpoint to the libertarian view. It works conceptually exactly like the example of the billiard balls. In this case however there is no will that can create contracausal effects. So in this conception of reality all our actions are unavoidable eventualities of these processes. In fact, if determinism is true, we run into an interesting concept first discussed by Laplace. If there was a being who could know everything about the universe at one time, then this being could see all the way to the beginning and to the end of the universe. There would be no way for this being to communicate this information to us because it would have to be outside of the universe to carry on its computations, but it still could theoretically do so.
    This view is traditionally very difficult to stomach. When we think about how we act we do so with the assumption that we are to some degree in control. However, if determinism is true then this is not the case. This then leads to a problem with the idea of punishment. How can we punish someone if there actions were decided by them? For example, how can I be held accountable for going to your house, breaking in, and stealing things if there is no way that I could have not done that? In this view of the world assigning responsibility is difficult because individuals are not making free choices. If this is true then putting a person in the exact same situation (exact here in the universal sense, not just similar circumstances) they will do whatever they did the first time over and over again.
    Compatibilists meet in the middle of the other two schools of thought and contend that determinism is not incompatible with moral responsibility. They contend that even if we do not have contracausal freedom we still have the capacity to make and be judged on our moral decisions. There are many different ways that compatibilists think about why it is that these two ideas are not incompatible but there are some consistent themes. In our book J.J.C Smart discusses how when we blame or praise someone we are doing so by ascribing responsibility to something along with grading it. In this example we can see that blaming a child because he is too stupid to do his homework isn’t very logical because the child is in fact incapable of doing it. But, if a child doesn’t do his homework out of laziness we can see that the problem is somewhat different. Because, even if determinism is true the child does have the logical possibility of doing something different, he isn’t incapable of doing so like the stupid child, meaning that this process of grading can change how he acts in the future.
    Libertarians and hard determinists both think that compatibilism is untrue. Galen Strawson makes an interesting argument that he dubbed the “basic argument.” It essentially shows how no individual can be responsible for their own determination and because of this no one can truly, in an ultimate sense, be morally responsible for their actions. He states that for one to be morally responsible for their actions they have to be responsible for how their mind is at any one point. But to be responsible for the way one is an individual would have to be responsible for brining about the way one is. This leads to a logical regression that goes all the way back to birth (213). Peter Van Inwagen also argues that compatibilism cannot be true by way of what he calls the first formal argument. This argument shows through truth functional logic that if determinism is true then certain actions cannot be performed if they do not align with the laws of nature and the state of the universe at any one time. If this was untrue, as a consequence of the arguments formal validity, then one of the premises that led to the conclusion would also have to be false, showing that determinism is incompatible with free will (50).
    The implications of this debate have an integral importance to how we think about morality. Take for example the current nonsense that surrounds Lyndsay Lohan. Every other day the girl is either going to court for a crime, committing a crime, or vehemently denying that she has committed a crime. Now if we take the libertarian perspective we can say that she is the sole author of her actions and thus solely responsible for it. She is not an individual who is being coerced into action nor constrained, like if she was stealing bread for her starving children. Now lets switch mentalities and look at it from a hard determinists point of view (these miniexamples are by no means complete descriptors of the philosophers who are classified as a certain type of group, rather they are stereotypic examples for the purposes of clarifying the distinct views. I by no means claim to be an expert.). If Lohan does not have any authorship of her own actions and her acts are just a product of physical realities then how can we cast moral judgment on her if she is not responsible for her actions? Finally we can look at the compatibilists view, if there is a fundamentally free will that occurs within a deterministic universe then we can ascribe responsibility to Lohan even though she had no real choice, but based on the fact that she was not incapable of making different decisions. All of these viewpoints are ways to look at the situation but some are certainly more often cited then others. I would contend that most people look at the situation and take a libertarian point of view, which is Lohan is responsible for her own situation.
    All in all, there are many different conceptions of whether or not we possess free will or if it is even possible that it could exist and causality be the same as it is typically thought to be now. Libertarians and hard determinists think that free will is fundamentally incompatible with determinism. Compatiblism say that this is untrue and that moral judgment can be made even though determinism is true. Lastly, it is important to notice how these different views can result in vastly different valuations of responsibility and what the moral repercussions are.

  • Micsobo79

    The time for religion and belief is over, it is time for Humanity to know the truth and live as one in harmony under it.

  • Micsobo79

    The time for religion and belief is over, it is time for Humanity to know the truth and live as one in harmony under it.

  • J03

    Good points.  We seem to be in general agreement.

    namaste

  • Acey Riot

    how can athiesm be a religion? thats like saying not collecting comic books is a hobby

  • Acey Riot

    how can athiesm be a religion? thats like saying not collecting comic books is a hobby

    • A Christian

      Its a whole different ball of wax when you are talking about the philosophical realm.  Comic book collecting is defined by physical items.  It is nothing more than a term to define a view of reality.  Existentialist, humanist they are all basically saying the same thing.  Oddly enough, there are annual “atheist” conventions where they get together and talk about how they shouldn’t be defined or categorized by their not believing in something.

  • A Christian

    Its a whole different ball of wax when you are talking about the philosophical realm.  Comic book collecting is defined by physical items.  It is nothing more than a term to define a view of reality.  Existentialist, humanist they are all basically saying the same thing.  Oddly enough, there are annual “atheist” conventions where they get together and talk about how they shouldn’t be defined or categorized by their not believing in something.

  • Clark Nova

    You’re stupid. JK:)

  • Clark Nova

    You’re stupid. JK:)

  • BaphometRex666

    As far as debate why debate in the first place?
    America is based on freedom of religion which in essence makes everybody right for themselves. The Freemasons have existed for hundreds of years without infighting because they support freedom of religion.  OK they don’t accept Atheists so there wouldn’t be the Atheists verses Religious fights but religions fight amongst themselves enough without  having to fight Atheists too. But there isn’t any religious wars within Freemasonry because each brother respects the rights of his fellow brothers. Sinagogue of Satan has existed for almost 13 years and is based on freedom of religion but unlike Freemasons we accept Atheists and there has never been any fights between members over a Belief in God or not. No fighting because to be a member you have to respect the rights of others. With freedom comes the responsibility of not infringing upon other peoples freedoms. Without this there is no freedom only varying degrees of slavery.

  • BaphometRex666

    As far as debate why debate in the first place?
    America is based on freedom of religion which in essence makes everybody right for themselves. The Freemasons have existed for hundreds of years without infighting because they support freedom of religion.  OK they don’t accept Atheists so there wouldn’t be the Atheists verses Religious fights but religions fight amongst themselves enough without  having to fight Atheists too. But there isn’t any religious wars within Freemasonry because each brother respects the rights of his fellow brothers. Sinagogue of Satan has existed for almost 13 years and is based on freedom of religion but unlike Freemasons we accept Atheists and there has never been any fights between members over a Belief in God or not. No fighting because to be a member you have to respect the rights of others. With freedom comes the responsibility of not infringing upon other peoples freedoms. Without this there is no freedom only varying degrees of slavery.

    • derekkn

      The problem is the connection between Church and State.  If religion has no place in conversation, it has no place in politics, and yet we see the two connected constantly.

      • BaphometRex666

        You also see Christians push for prayer in school but they haven’t won that battle and I hope they never do.
        You’re absolutely right about seeing religion extremely active in politics when it should not be allowed to do so. The Knights of Columbus a Catholic Fraternal order inserted “under God” in our pledge they also put “In God we trust” on our money. We are supposed to have separation of church and State but since our government is mostly made up of religious people when one tries to combat this they are beaten down and called a Communist and un-American. Mormons from Utah came into my state of California and passed Prop. 8 that removed the rights of gay people to get married. Again religion dictating their morals on secular people. It’s a crime but when the cops are Christian who you gonna call?

  • derekkn

    The problem is the connection between Church and State.  If religion has no place in conversation, it has no place in politics, and yet we see the two connected constantly.

  • J03

    Thanks for the overview.

    Libertarian free-will is logically indefensible.  We may agree on this point.

    Compatibilism has the problem of justifying usage of the term free-will.  If we dispose of the term free-will, we can then start a constructive process of defining practical solutions to the problems inherent in society without the scape-goat of “individual responsibility”.  Problems with individuals are systemic problems.  Individuals do not create problems out of thin air (ex nihilo).

    I’ve actually encountered atheists who hold a compatibilist view of religion, saying that although they don’t personally believe in religion, they think that it generally makes people better and is good for society.  This view, whether applied to free-will or religion, is the very definition of intellectual dishonesty.

    Your overview fails to mention that indeterminism is also incompatible with free-will.  Hard determinism mixed with some degree of randomness could provide a theoretical framework for an unknowable future collapsing into a single unalterable past.  Since randomness is antithetical to human decision making, adding some randomness to an otherwise deterministic framework does nothing to rescue the concept of free-will.

    namaste

  • A Christian

    If free will did not exist in part and personal responsibility fell completely on society for the actions of any of its individuals (with some blame on the genetic contributions of the parents) then any of the most violent criminals must go unpunished…that means all of them.  I don’t think anyone would agree to that, if anyone did, then I would suggest they think of a case in which that violent criminal victimized a loved one of that person. 

    Since thought is literally a quantum function and that field of research is in its infancy, why should we be so presumptuous as to think we know what is going on in terms of decision making?  Quantum theory is in the “world is flat” stage right now, we all know the dangers of making such decisions at this most early stage.

    I think that to philosophize over it may be entertaining, but recently there are some neurological scientists making pretty bold claims with ramifications in the department of Justice if taken seriously.  It will not be long before we see these arguments occurring in a courtroom.

  • J03

    Without individual responsibility (via free-will) we still have a more than adequate framework to deal with deviant behavior.  We do not presume that children have free-will and yet we take measures to modify their behavior when deemed necessary.  The same is true for the example of the mad dog.  A mad dog does not have free-will, but it is easy to recognize that steps must be taken in order to preserve the normal function of our society.  Nobody is proposing that we let everyone who is guilty of a crime simply go free.

    Quantum theory has nothing to do with the validity of free-will.  Quantum fluctuations may be inherently random, but even if this is true, we must bear in mind that a human cannot control randomness and therefore cannot be held personally responsible for actions that may arise from randomness.  Randomness is antithetical to free-will.

    Without the superstition of free-will it behooves us to both take action to modify the behavior of individuals who threaten the orderliness of our society and to address the systemic malfunctions that lead to such behavior.

    This simply turns our justice system into a practical rather than a moral institution.

    namaste

  • JJC

    Yeah I left out indeterminism just because its very similar to determinism in so far as it presents the same type of challenges. Robert Kane has some ideas about quantum indeterminacies being augmented by chaotic system in cell firing, potentially causing some sort of free will to arise. But, as Bell’s theorem shows us there is no ability to effect the outcome of a superposition’s wave collapse, i.e. it is truly random. So I can’t really buy into Robert Kane’s stuff, it is an interesting work along those lines if you ever want to check it out.

  • JJC

    Yeah I left out indeterminism just because its very similar to determinism in so far as it presents the same type of challenges. Robert Kane has some ideas about quantum indeterminacies being augmented by chaotic system in cell firing, potentially causing some sort of free will to arise. But, as Bell’s theorem shows us there is no ability to effect the outcome of a superposition’s wave collapse, i.e. it is truly random. So I can’t really buy into Robert Kane’s stuff, it is an interesting work along those lines if you ever want to check it out.

  • JJC

    Yeah I left out indeterminism just because its very similar to determinism in so far as it presents the same type of challenges. Robert Kane has some ideas about quantum indeterminacies being augmented by chaotic system in cell firing, potentially causing some sort of free will to arise. But, as Bell’s theorem shows us there is no ability to effect the outcome of a superposition’s wave collapse, i.e. it is truly random. So I can’t really buy into Robert Kane’s stuff, it is an interesting work along those lines if you ever want to check it out.

  • JJC

    Yeah I left out indeterminism just because its very similar to determinism in so far as it presents the same type of challenges. Robert Kane has some ideas about quantum indeterminacies being augmented by chaotic system in cell firing, potentially causing some sort of free will to arise. But, as Bell’s theorem shows us there is no ability to effect the outcome of a superposition’s wave collapse, i.e. it is truly random. So I can’t really buy into Robert Kane’s stuff, it is an interesting work along those lines if you ever want to check it out.

  • JJC

    Alright, just because I am perpetually fascinated by this stuff. I’ll through a paper I wrote about it out there if you folks are interested in checking it out.

    I.
    The implications of the free will debate carry far beyond purely questions about the nature of causality in the universe. In addition to the considerations of whether or not mechanism is true or is incompatible with free will, there are also moral implications about how exactly we should address individuals who perform actions that are deemed morally incorrect. With the libertarian conception of free will, where an individual is themselves the originator of actions, people can be held ultimately responsible for their actions because they acausally utilized their free will to cause the morally incorrect action to come about. However, if we take the view that mechanism is true, it seems as if punishing a person because they did something morally undesirable is incorrect because he/she was in fact just a step in a long causal process that ended in the action, instead of the sole originator of the action itself. Under the first view we can understand that the inclination to punish retributively makes sense. If an individual was truly the sole cause of the morally undesirable action then he deserves the whole blame for the action. On the other hand, if we take the second view that the action done was not really under his control (in a way where he was the sole originator of his action), then it appears that punishing the individual because he was solely responsible does not make sense. Instead, if an individual is not solely responsible for his action then the more effective means for society to prevent that individual from behaving similarly in the future seems to be reforming the individual who performed the act, instead of punishing him. So, when we discuss how to address moral issues we must either have a true concept of ultimate responsibility that justifies retributive punishment as something which that person deserves or we must try to recognize the reasons why an individual acted the way he did in order to prevent that from happening again in the future. Secondary to this discussion is whether or not, if we did have a mechanistic conception of the universe, our human emotions that typically get used to justify retributive punishment are so inextractable from our very nature that it is not possible to operate without them. In order to highlight these alternative views I will discuss various thinkers who have come down on both sides of these issues.
    C. S. Lewis was a leading figure in the Anglican Church and wrote on theological subjects. He was concerned with what he deemed the “Humanitarian Theory of Punishment” that had been on the rise in England. This viewpoint rejected that a man actually deserved a punishment and instead thought that legitimate motives for punishing are its deterrent effects or to better the criminal (448). While Lewis does admit that this stance does seem to be more humane than traditional retributive punishment he thinks that it belies a more sinister aspect, that an individual is deprived of his human rights when he is being forced to go through a process to “cure” him. While individuals may very well agree or disagree with the jury’s decision on a certain case, the medical community that is treating a criminal therapeutically answers to not a set sentence but rather only to their judgment of when an individual is “cured”. He also takes issue with the ability for a humanitarian system to use people as deterrents without them necessarily deserving it, because humanitarians have no use of that concept. This, Lewis thinks, could lead to innocent people being tried and found guilty in order to deter others who think that he is guilty from performing the same alleged crime. Thus if a trial can be faked fairly simply, as Lewis says it can be, it may very well be more expedient and helpful to actually frame an innocent man (450). Lewis ends with the thought that in the hands of a tyrant the humanitarian view of punishment could be used to conflate mental illness with mind states that differ from the tyrant’s interests, thus allowing the imposition of being cured onto the individual (451).
    Opposed to Lewis’s view is Karl Menninger. He argues that while we intuitively think that we should reward what is good with pleasure and punish what is bad with pain, this is not the most effective means to deter or control criminal behavior. Even though individuals know that they will be punished if they perform certain actions that does not deter some people from doing those very things in the first place (49). Menninger takes a psychological perspective on the criminals who are typically caught up in the criminal justice system. He thinks that typically they are put into a cell for a while then thrown back into a society that has already imposed the stigma of criminality upon him, further isolating himself from parts of society which do not contain criminal themselves. Due to these issues Menninger supports a system in which a patient is detained indefinitely until he can be deemed healthy. While some criminals will have to be held under a secure watch there can be different levels of security based on the patients themselves (51). However, if this course of treatment fails Menninger thinks we must “look our failure in the face” (51) and contain the prisoner indefinitely. This course of action would supposedly remove some of the waste and loss of man power concomitant with housing prisoners. He ends with concluding that we must take the constructive course of action and try to heal prisoners instead of primitively reacting to them with retributive punishment.
    In “Persons and Punishment” Herbert Morris argues for an individual’s right to punishment. While Morris recognizes that the idea that someone may have the right to punishment is a counterintuitive one he thinks that it can be founded in a person’s right to be treated as a person (62). To illustrate his point Morris conceives of two different systems of social control. The first resembles the contemporary prison where an individual is sent when he breaks the rules for an unfair benefit and causes a burden to other people (63). The second example institution is formed around the prohibition of different types of harms. In the second case an individual who harms another individual is in fact doing so because of some pathology. Morris claims that by regarding any harmful action as pathology essentially removes the distinction between a man sneezing due to a stuffy nose and a man purposefully throwing a punch. He thinks that erasing this distinction makes every criminal case a therapeutic one, something that differs wildly from the ends of punishment. In this system it seems that there is no place for the idea of repaying one’s debt to society incurred by placing greater burden on other people in the society in the first place (67). Morris thinks that instead of arousing shame and being treated like a human being by being punished, we are instead made into the unfortunate carriers of disease or the lucky recipients of compassionate therapy. By being punished we are given the right to view ourselves not as animals but instead as people who deserve treatment beyond animals and people who can attenuate our own debt to society (69). Thus it is important for us to understand that punishment is essentially being given the right to not be treated like an animal, rather as a human being who has some responsibility beyond what can be deemed to be a disease.
    The famed philosopher John Rawls also weighed in on this debate. The purpose of his argument is that there are “Two Concepts of Rules”. This distinction lies in between justifying a practice and justifying a particular action falling under this practice (3). It is his intent to show that the traditional objections to utilitarianism can be dismissed through the proper understanding of how this distinction operates. The first type of punishment in Rawls’ eyes is that the wrongdoer requires some sort of suffering in proportion to his wrongdoing because he is guilty (5). The second type is that of taking the utilitarian stance and forgiving passed actions but then responding to them in such a way that they do not happen in the future. It is Rawls’ aim to reconcile the tension between these two different views by applying the two different conceptions of rules. He then shows that it appears that the judge who is pronouncing punishment in hindsight is taking the retributive view of punishment while the legislator who hopes to use the laws to push for future benefits to society is using the utilitarian view of punishment (6). This, Rawls thinks, is a result of misunderstanding that the legislator is establishing a system in which the judge must act retributively purely as a result of needing to prove guilt and not to “preserve a correspondence between moral turpitude and suffering” (7). Rawls then replies to the idea of utilitarianism being used to justify the conviction of innocents on the basis of its deterrent effects that are beneficial to society. So, Rawls imagines an institution that has this type of “telishment” allowing it to charge an innocent man if the deterrent effects are going to have a large effect on an outbreak of crime. Rawls challenges this on the basis of not knowing where to actually place any sort of check on authority and by describing how the populace effected by this institution would have no way of knowing whether a man sentenced is actually being punished or telished (12). When these issues become the case then there ultimately will not be as much benefit as alternative systems that perform punishment. In doing so he demonstrates that theoretically the idea could be justified in a particular case but could not be justified as a rule of the institution itself because in the long run it causes more harm than good.
    Thomas Nagel discusses moral luck in his paper. In it he raises the question of how it is possible to blame someone for doing an action based purely on the results while not considering the potential unlikelihood of the results. For instance, if there are two people driving in the woods and going over the posted speed limit and the first hits a deer, we typically blame the first person and not the second person although they were performing the same act. But, Nagel asks, how is this justified? He eventually shows that this seems to be a similar problem that the incompatibilists have. If we are to judge people only on external happenings then we are denying that they have intentions within themselves. However if we deny that the external happenings have relevance to our moral decision making then we are excluding our external view of action which allows us to operate within the world (450).
    In his discussion of reactive attitudes Peter Strawson asks what role our emotions should take in our ascription of moral judgment. He points out that the way we act largely has a foundation on how we view the intentions and circumstances surrounding another’s actions (75). For example, imagine a man walking up to you while you were sitting on the grass somewhere and treading across your hand. You would naturally feel some sort of resentment towards this man because it seems obvious that he could have easily avoided having done so if he were to have been more conscientious. However, imagine if your friend spotted you sitting on the grass and walked over and in the process stepped on your hand. In the latter case you would forgive your friend because you could see that he did not intend to do that in the first place and it was just a matter of a misplaced step. It can be taken a step further and imagined that the person who stepped on your hand was foaming at the mouth and obviously portraying symptoms of a mental illness. If he were to step on your foot it would be hard to resent him because he is obviously not in his right mind (79). It is Strawson’s view that it is very important to remember that our moral regulations come from these reactive attitudes and what we consider to be good or bad is not carried out coolly and rationally but rather as a result of these reactive attitudes in the first place. Thus he believes that the compatabilists viewpoint is correct if we move from considering their idea of moral judgments from a completely objective standpoint to the subjective standpoint implied when we judge other’s actions based on their intentions (93).
    Charles Goodman uses the lens of reactive attitudes to better understand what the Buddhist position on the free will debate is. He thinks that the Buddhist tradition has a way out of considering both the practice and theory of moral responsibility (362). The Buddhist doctrine of the nonself is the launching of point at which Goodman deals with these problems. The doctrine of the nonself, while multifaceted and complicated, can essentially be summed up as such: there is no self that is not a conventional truth that makes it easier to operate in everyday life, on the ultimate level this self does not actually exist. Goodman views the Buddhist conception of the free will debate as that of a hard determinist position. If one does not have a self then they have no ultimate capability of effecting what happens. Due to this conception the Buddhist have various meditative practices to get beyond the emotional reactive attitudes that are brought up in life (368). He contends that some reactive attitudes could remain in the Buddhist conception but a focus on how individuals are not ultimately responsible can bring about a reduction in anger and resentment that could be beneficial to our interpersonal lives (370).
    Derek Pereboom also agrees with the hard incompatabilist’s view. He designs several alterations on Frankfurt’s thought experiments having to do with alternate possibility (94-97). He uses these examples to argue against libertarians and their arguments. A lot of his chapter deals with other arguments that have already been discussed in my past papers and in this paper, but I find the most interesting section to be his conception of what this all means for how we live our lives. He suggests that while it is typically thought of as a bad thing to drop moral responsibility how we currently conceive it, that does not mean that there cannot be some sort way to modulate peoples’ behaviors (114-118). Pereboom comes to a similar conclusion as Goodman does using Buddhism. Essentially, some reactive emotions may be ruled out by a hard deterministic worldview but these would likely be moral resentment and anger. This would end up leaving us with a different system of reactive emotions that would not be founded on whether or not someone was blameworthy (120). Pereboom drastically reshapes the notion of moral responsibility and how it affects us by arguing that the emotions Strawson talks about may not actually be the ones that would be most conducive to a good life.
    The revisionist perspective is addressed by Manuel Vargas. Essentially he believes that the different schools of thought on the free will problem actually present a false dichotomy that is not required to understand the issues at hand. He uses experimental philosophy to show the way lay people do think. He shows that depending on the context the way that the lay person discusses free will can be changed (137). However, he expresses misgivings about the libertarian point of view not because it is incoherent or unintelligible but because it seems to be empirically implausible (141). Vargas also takes note of the relatively poor track record philosophers of the mind have had at predicting how the brain actually works (145). Vargas then moves into discussing his revisionist account of how we should think about free will and responsibility that is not founded in diagnosing how we do think about it but rather the normative system which would be the best way to think about. He contends that responsibility is founded in human beings ability to take into account moral considerations that give rise to reasons for action (155). The relevant notion of free will that Vargas is getting at is the idea that free will is founded in the fact that something has the ability to detect moral considerations and they are capable of self-governance (160). Where this theory parts ways from the compatibilist school of thought is that it thinks that the commonsense intuitions of free will and responsibility are not compatible, rather an adapted framework can render the question of their compatibility moot (163). Vargas essentially makes the point that the status quo in the philosophy of free will is based in commonsense in such a way that it naturally takes the incompatibilist view point. But if we can change the framework of how it is discussed the problem evaporates.
    All of these philosophers have very important things to say about the free will debate. It is important to note how the frameworks put forth by these thinkers does have wide ranging consequences on how we morally treat each other in the real world. All in all, it is quite evident that the question is not settled between these dialogues but I will be interested to see where the revisionist school of thought leads, because it could make the rest of the dialogue a thing of the past.

    II.
    I will draw on the previous descriptions of the various authors to attempt and synthesize my own points of view briefly. A lot has been said already and I hope to not rehash myself, rather I would like to extend beyond what I have written and said already. With these goals in mind I will address how I think we should react to immoral behavior and what we should do about it.
    In my estimation the responses that are appropriate to good and bad actions of one’s self and others is fairly straight forward, Pereboom and Goodman have hit the nail right on the head. If we are to understand the inevitability of another person’s actions and that they had no ultimate choice in the matter then moral anger can quickly drop away from how we interact with each other. If we were to do this it seems to me as if there would be a lot more careful consideration of how an individual will act in his/her situation. This distance from the situation, in which you experience the emotion but then consider it rather than become its slave, should ultimately result in less quickness to judge or to react violently. In regards to how one acts towards themselves I think that regret is a much more productive emotion than guilt. Guilt is a self-destructive way of thinking that only reinforces the bad behavior in the first place because it causes one to start to see themselves as the bad person that they believe themselves to be. This leads to an acceptance of oneself as a bad person as opposed to someone who did a bad thing in the past, regretted it, and became a better person. The reduction of considering one’s self or others to be ultimately responsible would result in a world which is not as reactive and judgmental as the one we currently have.
    In regards to how criminals should be treated I am still somewhat torn. On the one hand I think that Rawls did a very good job dismantling the idea of telishment that C.S. Lewis articulated with his concerns about punishing the innocent for utilitarian ends. However, I also do not trust the medical establishment to not abuse their power in ways that invalidates the rights of criminals. It is dangerous in my opinion to conflate criminality with mental illness the way Menninger does because it allows for the sort of hegemoniacal tyranny of the majority that can result from a misuse of the intended therapeutic process. By all means, allow prisoners to have therapy if they so choose and allow their therapist to have some sort of feedback within the parole and sentencing context. But, I think it would be unwise to force anyone into therapy in order to change them, when their crime has the possibility of being morally correct yet legally incorrect. Or on the opposite side, do not give a corrupt banker the right to opt out and claim it was not his fault he was corrupt because he was mentally ill. So in terms of how we treat criminals, make therapy and their attempts to better themselves an integral part of when they are released and how their parole is arranged, but don’t allow the therapeutic community to supersede a set sentence because what they view as a disease may in fact be a result of how we view certain behaviors themselves, with no moral backing.
    I do like how Vargas defines what it means to be a responsible agent. The idea that an individual must be both sensitive to moral concerns and capable of governing their actions in accordance with this is a good one. I think that this viewpoint also speaks to the conception of a responsible agent I put forward in my last paper. I believe human sensitivity to moral concerns and our ability to want to think in certain ways (2nd order desires) is one of the closest ways to decide between what is a responsible agent and what type of agent cannot be considered responsible. This definition also goes a long way towards ruling out animals and the mentally infirm that we typically do not consider to be morally responsible the same way the average human being is.
    In conclusion, I think that while at some points the free will debate seems to go around and around in circles it is one of the most important questions to consider. Firstly, because how we think about morality and responsibility is completely tied up in the way we think about what exactly we are and in what sense we are or not free. Secondly, because the way in which we conceive free will has broad reaching effects in our institutions and morality, specifically the penal system. And lastly, the free will debate does an excellent job of demonstrating how intuitive notions can be shown to be problematic and not very applicable to theoretical considerations.

  • BaphometRex666

    You also see Christians push for prayer in school but they haven’t won that battle and I hope they never do.
    You’re absolutely right about seeing religion extremely active in politics when it should not be allowed to do so. The Knights of Columbus a Catholic Fraternal order inserted “under God” in our pledge they also put “In God we trust” on our money. We are supposed to have separation of church and State but since our government is mostly made up of religious people when one tries to combat this they are beaten down and called a Communist and un-American. Mormons from Utah came into my state of California and passed Prop. 8 that removed the rights of gay people to get married. Again religion dictating their morals on secular people. It’s a crime but when the cops are Christian who you gonna call?

  • Jamie Cox

    When an atheist tries to adamantly push the idea that your stupid and/or crazy for believing something is/could be true which science has now pointed to as a potential, it looks a lot like what I see looking at fundie-Christians. Due to this, I do believe that some atheists are slightly religious about it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jamie-Cox/100001157042213 Jamie Cox

    When an atheist tries to adamantly push the idea that your stupid and/or crazy for believing something is/could be true which science has now pointed to as a potential, it looks a lot like what I see looking at fundie-Christians. Due to this, I do believe that some atheists are slightly religious about it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jamie-Cox/100001157042213 Jamie Cox

    A man may die, but not his ideas.

  • Ruysmith

    There are many Function debate for the Every Religion.Every Saints have been partipate in the Religion Debate .
     http://www.gossiprocks.com/forum/members/delzoish-37101.html

  • Anonymous

    There are many Function debate for the Every Religion.Every Saints have been partipate in the Religion Debate .
     http://www.gossiprocks.com/forum/members/delzoish-37101.html

  • http://twitter.com/HooTsH Hesham Mohsen

    Its funny how people try to figure out things that are just impossible to figure out.

    You can neither prove, nor disprove any of the two theories.

    For me, if you take a completely objective point of view, the more sensible decision will still be religion.

    For a number of reasons, its because there are simply too many “coincidences” in life that could not have come as a result of natural selection (I just don’t think its a coincidence there are almost no species out there that are close to humans, or even semi-human…its a fundamental flaw in the atheist theory….so many things could not have come from natural selection…little details in the biology of different creatures….just don’t make sense how these “options” came from an atheist point of view), it could be because religion is safer…just in case there is an afterlife, it could be because religion just makes sense, or it could be because you feel insecure/weak deep inside, it could be because you simply need hope.

    But I honestly believe that it is impossible to even understand the beginning of life, some human beings just refuse to believe that they are not always smart/strong enough…always so confident and arrogant…we freak out in the dark for a reason.

  • http://twitter.com/HooTsH Hesham Mohsen

    Its funny how people try to figure out things that are just impossible to figure out.

    You can neither prove, nor disprove any of the two theories.

    For me, if you take a completely objective point of view, the more sensible decision will still be religion.

    For a number of reasons, its because there are simply too many “coincidences” in life that could not have come as a result of natural selection (I just don’t think its a coincidence there are almost no species out there that are close to humans, or even semi-human…its a fundamental flaw in the atheist theory….so many things could not have come from natural selection…little details in the biology of different creatures….just don’t make sense how these “options” came from an atheist point of view), it could be because religion is safer…just in case there is an afterlife, it could be because religion just makes sense, or it could be because you feel insecure/weak deep inside, it could be because you simply need hope.

    But I honestly believe that it is impossible to even understand the beginning of life, some human beings just refuse to believe that they are not always smart/strong enough…always so confident and arrogant…we freak out in the dark for a reason.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonabitstream Jon Anderson

    Find ways to effectively disable irrational fear(s) and the destructive aspects of religion will gradually disappear. 

    • BaphometRex666

      Very True Jon, but those fears are usually instilled by the leaders of that belief system to control it’s followers. As I’m sure you’ve seen governments use this same tactic to control and manipulate the general public. Propaganda is an extremely effective cattle prod it can even get the herd to trample on those identified as not being part of the herd. A great example is Pat Robertson screaming for the death of Chavez as if Chavez wronged America in such a way to deserve such action which he did not. To stop the fears
      would mean to stop their creators, GOOD FUCKING LUCK TO US ALL ON THAT ONE!!!!!!

      • http://www.facebook.com/jonabitstream Jon Anderson

        Bap, we are a social species. We get our safety in our numbers — at least that’s the up side of our sociability. Personally I also get a nice bump back to reality whenever I bring my privately held ideas out into the open with others of our species.

        I agree our leaders can prompt us to behave badly, and I continue to insist it’s fear at its base. When enough people are afraid — irrationally afraid — they are easy targets for the manipulations of leaders. Again, this is where the Tea Party comes from, it’s where Nazi Germany came from, the Bolshevik Revolution, Fox News . . ..

        Thankfully we have The Daily Show to encourage us to return to healthy fears.

      • anti

        Hey, is this a correct depiction of baphomet?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonabitstream Jon Anderson

    Find ways to effectively disable irrational fear(s) and the destructive aspects of religion will gradually disappear. 

  • EmilyPN

    Hmm, curious to me that in the last section on faith you quote someone saying people who believe things on faith are holding beliefs suggestive of mental illness.  That didn’t sound very respectful to me, especially since the quote provides no evidence.

      I believe in God, and I was raised in the Unitarian Church and belong to the Unitarian-Universalist Association.  I think trying to sum up the role that religion plays in my life would be hard in such a short time.  Some of it is similar to the role any secular organization can play, like the value of social connections, being with people who express their beliefs about how to treat each other in positive ways, and doing socially useful projects like supporting homeless shelters.  It would be possible to do these things with a group of atheists or agnostics.What is perhaps harder for atheists to hear, however, is that I attend church to be closer to God, and that I think many atheists share this with me is spite of their disbelief.  This is because for me the word “God” is a placeholder for something that cannot be described in words.  The ineffable or the wondrous, if you will.  All inadequate to the task.  Someone mentioned the example of love.  Do you believe in love as something real in the world?  How do you express it?  Where and how do you experience it?  I would vigorously disagree if you think that love can be reduced to a simple set of chemical and electrical reactions in our bodies, although clearly these things are involved.  Yet, I don’t think anyone can prove that this is all there is to love, any more than I can prove to you what else love is.  Yet, I believe that if you actually and literally live your life, as a partner, spouse, child, friend or lover as though what you feel when you love someone is nothing more than a set of chemical and electrical events your life will be void of meaning and bereft of joy.  I am not talking about walking around believing on a conscious level that this is all there is to love.  I mean living in your heart, with your subconscious mind as well as though this were true.There are committed atheists who belong to the UUA, and my understanding is that for many some version of why amounts to this:  That while they do not believe in anything outside of the physical world, which is how they see a belief in God, they do know deep down inside that there is something greater than each of us individually, even if only humanity and the infinite universe.  Come to think of it, that’s a lot already.  So, I’m fine with those folks being UUs because I like them as people, and because I think there is something I recognize as spiritual for us to share in a church setting.  We also share a desire to worship, which means coming together to connect with  that which we believe is most important.  In the end, what really matters is not owning things, but having safety and security in our lives.  It is not being famous or adulated, but loved and respected.  These are things that I would be curious to see lived as though they were reducible in fact to simple ordinary chemical and electrical processes.  Again, I don’t mean making a logical argument that they are reducible, I know very well that you can.  In logic, verbally.  I would be curious to see someone living as though this were true.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jonabitstream Jon Anderson

      Emily, to the extent that we feel irrational fear (ex.: Juan William’s fear of people dressed in Middle Eastern garb on an airplane) we are mentally ill. Irrational fear is fear based largely on the imagination of the one afraid. Reality is mostly missing there — except for the reality that they fear irrationally! :-) 

      I usually appreciate it when someone helps me to see the irrational in my fear; it’s calming and I can thereafter better perceive reality, not to mention constructively deal with a legitimate fear.The harm religion has done over the ages has been to do with irrational fear: for the popes it was fear of the loss of power, for the faithful it has been fear of death which then permits them all manner of atrocities to prevent the realization of said death.I enjoyed, as a kid, the social aspect of church going. As I aged I found groups closer associated with the life I lived. In those groups I didn’t have to maintain any personal fiction to belong. This continues to work for me presently.

      • EmilyPN

        While I agree in some respites with what you say in general, it misses the reason I cemented as I did.  My apologies if I was inarticulate.  I was reacting to my surprise at the comment connecting religion with mental illness in a column asking for a more respectful debate.  There is so much more that could be said about faith than what the author does, and by saying only what he does, implies that faith as evidence of mental illness is the only reasonable view.  Perhaps I misunderstood his intent, but that’s how it sounded to me.  

        I do see the value in being aware of your irrational fears and preventing yourself from acting on them.   I also try to interrupt myself and not believe every irrational thought that comes not my mind.  If, however, you mean that faith is ipso facto irrational and evidence of mental illness even in the sense that you say, then you and I have a different view of it.  To me, the positive expression of faith is to act on the basis of things that are real for you even if you can’t prove them scientifically.  I believe that the universe is at its essence love, and I have rather vivid experiences that lead me to this belief.  That belief is not about fear, and it underlies my ability, when I can, to act counter to my fears.  I’m curoius what is your reaction to the things I said about people acting as if love were one of those ineffable things that is not reducible to material processes?

        • http://www.facebook.com/jonabitstream Jon Anderson

          I dearly hope people will act as if love were at the bottom of their actions. However, love is not god. Faithful folk call it “mysterious” whenever god does something evil. I do not.

          • EmilyPN

            I hope you didn’t think I was saying that love is God.  I do think that God is love has meaning, but only if you understand love as something that our human definition is a faint representative of.  I’m not sure why you make mention of God doing something evil, as that has nothing to do with my views.  Perhaps others see it that way and you can address them with your concerns.

          • Jonabitstream

            Would describing someone as having cancer be an insult? I assume no. Then kindly eliminate your stigma for mental illness. Both are treatable, neither imply culpability.

            I gather you assign god’s essential character to be ineffable. If so, why would one place faith in a thing ineffable? Why believe in something we cannot know?

            As to evil, I erroneously assume you are a Christian. Christians oppose evil yet overlook all the evil committed by their god in the old testament (specifically Leviticus and Deuteronomy).

          • EmilyPN

            Actually I hold no stigma about mental illness.  My disagreement was with what you were describing as a mental illness.  People who don’t like each other sometimes call each other a cancer to be removed (think some Israelis and Palestinians).  What is wrong is not cancer but describing something or someone as being cancerous when they are not.  What I disagreed with was your description of something being a mental illness when it is not.  That doesn’t automatically mean that I think mental illness is something to be shunned in itself.  I believe in God, and I don’t need to be cured of it, thank you very much.

            As for Christianity, I am not one. The tradition I was raised in, Unitarianism, certainly came out of the Christian tradition, but what unites us is not any central tenet of belief, but a covenant about how we will be together as we worship.  We agree to seven central principles, among them being the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and another is a free and responsible search for truth and meaning.  I have engaged in that search and apparently it has lead me to different conclusions than you.  As Unitarian-Universalists we hold that this is a natural condition of a life in which the central truths, while amenable to the application of reason, are not reducible to that what can be discerned through reason alone.  I have experiences that lead me to believe that we are immersed in, indeed our very bodies are made up of a substance that is in some sense alive, intelligent and loving.  The problem being, that those three words are a sorry human attempt to describe something that is vastly different than what for example intelligence as we humans express it looks like.  And yet, I have no other words to coney what I have experienced.  

            What would be enlightening to me would be your description of what moves you, what leads you to live a moral life, what causes you to experience joy and wonder?  This, rather than  your description of me as having a mental illness I clearly don’t have, would be an interesting conversation.  As it is, I have little sense of you as the wonderful human being you are.  Perhaps you will let a bit of that come through.

          • Jon Anderson

            Emily,
            Sorry, but irrational fear is never a good thing. It is always destructive, never an example of mental wellness. Perhaps you could offer us some examples of the good things irrational fear have accomplished in our species’ history.

            The universe has no opinion about you and I. We are not special — except in our minds. This same opinion-less universe moves me. No vague language about love or meaning will ever do. I am moved by what is. God is not.

  • Anonymous

    Hmm, curious to me that in the last section on faith you quote someone saying people who believe things on faith are holding beliefs suggestive of mental illness.  That didn’t sound very respectful to me, especially since the quote provides no evidence.

      I believe in God, and I was raised in the Unitarian Church and belong to the Unitarian-Universalist Association.  I think trying to sum up the role that religion plays in my life would be hard in such a short time.  Some of it is similar to the role any secular organization can play, like the value of social connections, being with people who express their beliefs about how to treat each other in positive ways, and doing socially useful projects like supporting homeless shelters.  It would be possible to do these things with a group of atheists or agnostics.What is perhaps harder for atheists to hear, however, is that I attend church to be closer to God, and that I think many atheists share this with me is spite of their disbelief.  This is because for me the word “God” is a placeholder for something that cannot be described in words.  The ineffable or the wondrous, if you will.  All inadequate to the task.  Someone mentioned the example of love.  Do you believe in love as something real in the world?  How do you express it?  Where and how do you experience it?  I would vigorously disagree if you think that love can be reduced to a simple set of chemical and electrical reactions in our bodies, although clearly these things are involved.  Yet, I don’t think anyone can prove that this is all there is to love, any more than I can prove to you what else love is.  Yet, I believe that if you actually and literally live your life, as a partner, spouse, child, friend or lover as though what you feel when you love someone is nothing more than a set of chemical and electrical events your life will be void of meaning and bereft of joy.  I am not talking about walking around believing on a conscious level that this is all there is to love.  I mean living in your heart, with your subconscious mind as well as though this were true.There are committed atheists who belong to the UUA, and my understanding is that for many some version of why amounts to this:  That while they do not believe in anything outside of the physical world, which is how they see a belief in God, they do know deep down inside that there is something greater than each of us individually, even if only humanity and the infinite universe.  Come to think of it, that’s a lot already.  So, I’m fine with those folks being UUs because I like them as people, and because I think there is something I recognize as spiritual for us to share in a church setting.  We also share a desire to worship, which means coming together to connect with  that which we believe is most important.  In the end, what really matters is not owning things, but having safety and security in our lives.  It is not being famous or adulated, but loved and respected.  These are things that I would be curious to see lived as though they were reducible in fact to simple ordinary chemical and electrical processes.  Again, I don’t mean making a logical argument that they are reducible, I know very well that you can.  In logic, verbally.  I would be curious to see someone living as though this were true.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonabitstream Jon Anderson

    Emily, to the extent that we feel irrational fear (ex.: Juan William’s fear of people dressed in Middle Eastern garb on an airplane) we are mentally ill. Irrational fear is fear based largely on the imagination of the one afraid. Reality is mostly missing there — except for the reality that they fear irrationally! :-) 

    I usually appreciate it when someone helps me to see the irrational in my fear; it’s calming and I can thereafter better perceive reality, not to mention constructively deal with a legitimate fear.The harm religion has done over the ages has been to do with irrational fear: for the popes it was fear of the loss of power, for the faithful it has been fear of death which then permits them all manner of atrocities to prevent the realization of said death.I enjoyed, as a kid, the social aspect of church going. As I aged I found groups closer associated with the life I lived. In those groups I didn’t have to maintain any personal fiction to belong. This continues to work for me presently.

  • Anonymous

    While I agree in some respites with what you say in general, it misses the reason I cemented as I did.  My apologies if I was inarticulate.  I was reacting to my surprise at the comment connecting religion with mental illness in a column asking for a more respectful debate.  There is so much more that could be said about faith than what the author does, and by saying only what he does, implies that faith as evidence of mental illness is the only reasonable view.  Perhaps I misunderstood his intent, but that’s how it sounded to me.  

    I do see the value in being aware of your irrational fears and preventing yourself from acting on them.   I also try to interrupt myself and not believe every irrational thought that comes not my mind.  If, however, you mean that faith is ipso facto irrational and evidence of mental illness even in the sense that you say, then you and I have a different view of it.  To me, the positive expression of faith is to act on the basis of things that are real for you even if you can’t prove them scientifically.  I believe that the universe is at its essence love, and I have rather vivid experiences that lead me to this belief.  That belief is not about fear, and it underlies my ability, when I can, to act counter to my fears.  I’m curoius what is your reaction to the things I said about people acting as if love were one of those ineffable things that is not reducible to material processes?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonabitstream Jon Anderson

    I dearly hope people will act as if love were at the bottom of their actions. However, love is not god. Faithful folk call it “mysterious” whenever god does something evil. I do not.

  • BaphometRex666

    Very True Jon, but those fears are usually instilled by the leaders of that belief system to control it’s followers. As I’m sure you’ve seen governments use this same tactic to control and manipulate the general public. Propaganda is an extremely effective cattle prod it can even get the herd to trample on those identified as not being part of the herd. A great example is Pat Robertson screaming for the death of Chavez as if Chavez wronged America in such a way to deserve such action which he did not. To stop the fears
    would mean to stop their creators, GOOD FUCKING LUCK TO US ALL ON THAT ONE!!!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonabitstream Jon Anderson

    Bap, we are a social species. We get our safety in our numbers — at least that’s the up side of our sociability. Personally I also get a nice bump back to reality whenever I bring my privately held ideas out into the open with others of our species.

    I agree our leaders can prompt us to behave badly, and I continue to insist it’s fear at its base. When enough people are afraid — irrationally afraid — they are easy targets for the manipulations of leaders. Again, this is where the Tea Party comes from, it’s where Nazi Germany came from, the Bolshevik Revolution, Fox News . . ..

    Thankfully we have The Daily Show to encourage us to return to healthy fears.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonabitstream Jon Anderson

    Bap, we are a social species. We get our safety in our numbers — at least that’s the up side of our sociability. Personally I also get a nice bump back to reality whenever I bring my privately held ideas out into the open with others of our species.

    I agree our leaders can prompt us to behave badly, and I continue to insist it’s fear at its base. When enough people are afraid — irrationally afraid — they are easy targets for the manipulations of leaders. Again, this is where the Tea Party comes from, it’s where Nazi Germany came from, the Bolshevik Revolution, Fox News . . ..

    Thankfully we have The Daily Show to encourage us to return to healthy fears.

  • Anonymous

    I hope you didn’t think I was saying that love is God.  I do think that God is love has meaning, but only if you understand love as something that our human definition is a faint representative of.  I’m not sure why you make mention of God doing something evil, as that has nothing to do with my views.  Perhaps others see it that way and you can address them with your concerns.

  • Anonymous

    I hope you didn’t think I was saying that love is God.  I do think that God is love has meaning, but only if you understand love as something that our human definition is a faint representative of.  I’m not sure why you make mention of God doing something evil, as that has nothing to do with my views.  Perhaps others see it that way and you can address them with your concerns.

  • anti

    Hey, is this a correct depiction of baphomet?

  • Jonabitstream

    Would describing someone as having cancer be an insult? I assume no. Then kindly eliminate your stigma for mental illness. Both are treatable, neither imply culpability.

    I gather you assign god’s essential character to be ineffable. If so, why would one place faith in a thing ineffable? Why believe in something we cannot know?

    As to evil, I erroneously assume you are a Christian. Christians oppose evil yet overlook all the evil committed by their god in the old testament (specifically Leviticus and Deuteronomy).

  • Anonymous

    Actually I hold no stigma about mental illness.  My disagreement was with what you were describing as a mental illness.  People who don’t like each other sometimes call each other a cancer to be removed (think some Israelis and Palestinians).  What is wrong is not cancer but describing something or someone as being cancerous when they are not.  What I disagreed with was your description of something being a mental illness when it is not.  That doesn’t automatically mean that I think mental illness is something to be shunned in itself.  I believe in God, and I don’t need to be cured of it, thank you very much.

    As for Christianity, I am not one. The tradition I was raised in, Unitarianism, certainly came out of the Christian tradition, but what unites us is not any central tenet of belief, but a covenant about how we will be together as we worship.  We agree to seven central principles, among them being the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and another is a free and responsible search for truth and meaning.  I have engaged in that search and apparently it has lead me to different conclusions than you.  As Unitarian-Universalists we hold that this is a natural condition of a life in which the central truths, while amenable to the application of reason, are not reducible to that what can be discerned through reason alone.  I have experiences that lead me to believe that we are immersed in, indeed our very bodies are made up of a substance that is in some sense alive, intelligent and loving.  The problem being, that those three words are a sorry human attempt to describe something that is vastly different than what for example intelligence as we humans express it looks like.  And yet, I have no other words to coney what I have experienced.  

    What would be enlightening to me would be your description of what moves you, what leads you to live a moral life, what causes you to experience joy and wonder?  This, rather than  your description of me as having a mental illness I clearly don’t have, would be an interesting conversation.  As it is, I have little sense of you as the wonderful human being you are.  Perhaps you will let a bit of that come through.

  • Jon Anderson

    Emily,
    Sorry, but irrational fear is never a good thing. It is always destructive, never an example of mental wellness. Perhaps you could offer us some examples of the good things irrational fear have accomplished in our species’ history.

    The universe has no opinion about you and I. We are not special — except in our minds. This same opinion-less universe moves me. No vague language about love or meaning will ever do. I am moved by what is. God is not.

  • Cranium_chill

    “Holding both points of view in balance on an individual level can also fix the problem!”

    • Jon Anderson

      If wishes was fishes . . ..

      One must maintain a very large blind spot to find anything like equality between the two perspectives. Our species has — I assume — always been about the business of figuring out the nature of reality, yet
      C.C.,

      One of these two “equal” views has consistently, persistently worked to suppress new knowledge/insight at every progressing step.

      One of these views, for example, has concerned itself with what they call “revealed truth.” Unfortunately for that perspective, reality contradicts it and the other view has had the temerity to point it out.

      One view has held power for millennia, the other has said, all along, “say what?”

      I assume our species has always worked hard to better understand the nature of reality, yet one of these views has pretty consistently worked to suppress, prevent, and deny new knowledge and insight at every step.

  • Cranium_chill

    “Holding both points of view in balance on an individual level can also fix the problem!”

  • Jon Anderson

    If wishes was fishes . . ..

    One must maintain a very large blind spot to find anything like equality between the two perspectives. Our species has — I assume — always been about the business of figuring out the nature of reality, yet
    C.C.,

    One of these two “equal” views has consistently, persistently worked to suppress new knowledge/insight at every progressing step.

    One of these views, for example, has concerned itself with what they call “revealed truth.” Unfortunately for that perspective, reality contradicts it and the other view has had the temerity to point it out.

    One view has held power for millennia, the other has said, all along, “say what?”

    I assume our species has always worked hard to better understand the nature of reality, yet one of these views has pretty consistently worked to suppress, prevent, and deny new knowledge and insight at every step.

  • Vignateslou

    This idea of a creator leads to the questions: what created the creator?   If a universe can’t simply exist, but must have a creator then it seems reasonable that a creator can’t simply exist, but must be created.   Ad infinitum.
    The above sentences point out the lack of sense in religious faith.  Of course, “faith” implies a lack of sense.

  • Vignateslou

    This idea of a creator leads to the questions: what created the creator?   If a universe can’t simply exist, but must have a creator then it seems reasonable that a creator can’t simply exist, but must be created.   Ad infinitum.
    The above sentences point out the lack of sense in religious faith.  Of course, “faith” implies a lack of sense.

  • monkeyface

    This doesn’t really clean up the religious debate at all … its, well, quite simply, biased disinformation.

    Ironically, its too loaded with hypocrisy to see what is tongue in cheek and what is really intended (surely they don’t really believe that is a balanced view?!)

    He has in fact, written an eloquent version of the “religion is stupid” side of the fence, exactly as he said is the problem he proposes to clear up. I cannot decide if this is due to blind arrogance

    “If our goal is to have an informed and informative discussion in which there is a frank exchange of ideas, opinions and facts, how can we ensure that happens?”
    Errr, if you’re NOT an idiot^, you start from mutually agreed axioms. Starting from one perspective, however clear and fair you think that representation is, can only degenerate into a mess where both sides are at loggerheads thinking they are right and the other is stupid. One thing’s for sure, if there is an argument between two or more groups without sufficiently well defined and relevant mutually agreed axioms, *at least* one side is stupid^.

    ^ These words are used to identify somebody who is insufficiently skilled to carry out a logically cogent and constructive debate. 

  • monkeyface

    This doesn’t really clean up the religious debate at all … its, well, quite simply, biased disinformation.

    Ironically, its too loaded with hypocrisy to see what is tongue in cheek and what is really intended (surely they don’t really believe that is a balanced view?!)

    He has in fact, written an eloquent version of the “religion is stupid” side of the fence, exactly as he said is the problem he proposes to clear up. I cannot decide if this is due to blind arrogance

    “If our goal is to have an informed and informative discussion in which there is a frank exchange of ideas, opinions and facts, how can we ensure that happens?”
    Errr, if you’re NOT an idiot^, you start from mutually agreed axioms. Starting from one perspective, however clear and fair you think that representation is, can only degenerate into a mess where both sides are at loggerheads thinking they are right and the other is stupid. One thing’s for sure, if there is an argument between two or more groups without sufficiently well defined and relevant mutually agreed axioms, *at least* one side is stupid^.

    ^ These words are used to identify somebody who is insufficiently skilled to carry out a logically cogent and constructive debate. 

  • http://twitter.com/antonchanning Anton Channing

    Interesting article.  I agree with the sentiment if not all your points.  

    Firstly I see the idea of “balance” and reaching a middle ground between two opposing ‘sides’ from being taught ‘fairness’ as children.  The idea becomes so deeply ingrained in most of us that we instinctively feel that the truth must lie somewhere between the perceived sides.  It doesn’t always.  A point readily exploited by all those who seek to hide the truth, or manipulate and control what people think (advertisers, politicians, psychopaths, religious leaders etc).  The midway point between a lie and the truth is itself a lie.  Something to keep in mind I feel.

    Secondly whilst I agree that non-belief in a ‘creator’ does not require faith this does not in and of itself absolve athiests of irrational faith.  For example, many people today, both athiest and non-athiest, have an irrational belief in science.  Not scientists themselves I grant you.  They put science to the test all the time.  

    But for non-scientists they just accept what they are told science says.  A fact exploited by marketing and advertising to sell them stuff based on spurious scientific claims, or claims based on weak or incomplete corporate funded research, that only really asked the questions the corporations, or their self appointed ‘watchdogs’ wanted asked.  

    People who get suckered by this, and more importantly open their eyes and realise they got sucked by it, become sceptical of scientific claims in general.  Especially from ‘new research’.  Probably not a bad thing but people abusing the terms ‘science’ and ‘scientific’ in order to manipulate and control do tarnish the brand somewhat.  So I understand why scientists take a dislike to obvious pseudo-science, but feel that the current research may currently be bias towards the interests of the political and corporate elites who provide the funding.

  • http://twitter.com/antonchanning Anton Channing

    Interesting article.  I agree with the sentiment if not all your points.  

    Firstly I see the idea of “balance” and reaching a middle ground between two opposing ‘sides’ from being taught ‘fairness’ as children.  The idea becomes so deeply ingrained in most of us that we instinctively feel that the truth must lie somewhere between the perceived sides.  It doesn’t always.  A point readily exploited by all those who seek to hide the truth, or manipulate and control what people think (advertisers, politicians, psychopaths, religious leaders etc).  The midway point between a lie and the truth is itself a lie.  Something to keep in mind I feel.

    Secondly whilst I agree that non-belief in a ‘creator’ does not require faith this does not in and of itself absolve athiests of irrational faith.  For example, many people today, both athiest and non-athiest, have an irrational belief in science.  Not scientists themselves I grant you.  They put science to the test all the time.  

    But for non-scientists they just accept what they are told science says.  A fact exploited by marketing and advertising to sell them stuff based on spurious scientific claims, or claims based on weak or incomplete corporate funded research, that only really asked the questions the corporations, or their self appointed ‘watchdogs’ wanted asked.  

    People who get suckered by this, and more importantly open their eyes and realise they got sucked by it, become sceptical of scientific claims in general.  Especially from ‘new research’.  Probably not a bad thing but people abusing the terms ‘science’ and ‘scientific’ in order to manipulate and control do tarnish the brand somewhat.  So I understand why scientists take a dislike to obvious pseudo-science, but feel that the current research may currently be bias towards the interests of the political and corporate elites who provide the funding.

  • Talismancer M

    To the writer. You’ve conflated your own use of religious ideas (eg as a functional avatar which is how I use “magic” with reference to technology) with those of the majority religions that are VERY different and make direct claims about how reality operates and will attack science when it transgresses upon those claims (which is all the time). 

    We are currently seeing a very real sign of humanity splitting over the benefits of modernity, mainly due to immoral voices taking advantage of religion as a tool for deliberate ignorance. New Atheism seeks to remove that tool and remind people about how we got to the advanced stage we find ourselves in. If we fail then that component of humanity will fall further and further behind until they become a group we treat as zoo animals…to be sheltered in a padded environment and kept out of harms way while we get on with advancing. Which is not what anyone wants (I hope).

  • Talismancer M

    To the writer. You’ve conflated your own use of religious ideas (eg as a functional avatar which is how I use “magic” with reference to technology) with those of the majority religions that are VERY different and make direct claims about how reality operates and will attack science when it transgresses upon those claims (which is all the time). 

    We are currently seeing a very real sign of humanity splitting over the benefits of modernity, mainly due to immoral voices taking advantage of religion as a tool for deliberate ignorance. New Atheism seeks to remove that tool and remind people about how we got to the advanced stage we find ourselves in. If we fail then that component of humanity will fall further and further behind until they become a group we treat as zoo animals…to be sheltered in a padded environment and kept out of harms way while we get on with advancing. Which is not what anyone wants (I hope).

  • http://twitter.com/stanchaz stan chaz

    I believe in YOU…. readers of Disinformation.

  • http://twitter.com/stanchaz stan chaz

    I believe in YOU…. readers of Disinformation.

  • Anonymous

    You people are arguing about a post where a guy said his cat talks to him.

  • Anonymous

    I have got many ideas about the  Religion Debate Cleaning Up.
    http://hdsocson.vn/member.php?13456-Alaqua

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