An atheist can't believe in free will

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This topic contains 54 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  jakelafort 3 weeks, 6 days ago.

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  • #52219

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Davis, you may infer from influence that we have choice but influence does not imply choice.

    The language is perhaps the confusion. Our language reflects our perception and experience. OH GOD, blurted out in a moment of ecstasy or astonishment does not imply that the bedazzled is a believer in god.

    Decisions are made but never freely. The failure of the free market place of ideas is more a result of the absence of freedom than it is a result of stupidity. Well educated college kids ardent in their beliefs and resistent to reason. Children raised in orthodox homes and in orthodox cultures incapable of utilizing that same degree of ratiocination applied to issues extraneous to their beliefs. No freedom whatsoever. And i could go on and on in same vein. Decisions made without a scintilla of freedom. Beliefs once formed are like arthritis once generated.

    #52220

    Unseen
    Participant

    “Influence” on how people decide to live their lives, infers “choice”. Is choice meaningful or not Pope? If it is not, then influencing someone’s choice is not meaningful either. This is not rocket science.

    I think you mean “implies choice.” Close meanings, but different. Of course we have choices. That isn’t the question, and you should know it. The issue is whether our choices, once analyzed, turn out to be anything other than the result of processes over which we have no real control. In the nervous system and brain.

    Ummm… If you can influence someone not to do something harmful—even if you are impelled to do it by a brain which you cannot overrule—and if the subject thereby changes their behavior in a similar fashion, where does meaningfulness come into it…or not?

    It seems to me you are manufacturing a nonexistent problem only because you’ve become so attached to the notion of free will that you have abandoned all logic. As you say, it’s not rocket science. Free will is a bugaboo created to justify praise and blame behavior.

    You still haven’t, despite about three requests now, given us the definition of free will or told me whether my cat has free will.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by  Unseen.
    #52222

    jakelafort
    Participant

    First we have to define free will before we can answer Robert’s question.

    But obviously whatever it is has gone along for the evolutionary ride. Changes in brains suggest changes in consciousness and consciousness is inextricably linked with free will. So if we posit free will in humans but not in cats we are just being religious assholes. And free will might not be enjoyed to the same degree in all humans. People with schizophrenia or downs syndrome or alzheimer’s won’t have the mythical free will that Joe Dirt or Maryann Bogochow possess.

    I think free will is a constuct. (I don’t mean the religious construct of free will that enables us to be sinners in the hands of an angry god) We have levels of conscious and mostly unconscious processes that are utterly inaccessible to us. I have in my own life observed how matters behind my awareness are in play. I am certain the few things that have become apparent are only a tiny fraction of billions of neurons at play. For instance in court at contested hearings or trials i had a sort of zone that was not present during everyday life. When listening to opposing counsel i would instantly KNOW an argument was flawed without knowing why or how and had to consciously think about it.

    I speak backwards and most of the time do it without thinking about how to form words backwards. And i had one eerie experience at my first trial where a mother and two daughters would have lost their home if i lost. Opposing counsel who represented the x husband objected to my prepared line of questions. Objection sustained. I had nothing else prepared, had not slept the night before, was ultra stressed and i went into a trance with the husband on the stand. I have no idea how many questions i asked while in trance but when i came to i saw him. This big cocky guy who had apparently been informed by his counsel that he had nothing to worry about and his obligation to pay a mortgage he took out against the family home would be discharged in bankruptcy was ashen and shaking. Judgment for my client.

    So sure we make decisions but they’re never free of all those interactions behind the scenes, the environment, our environment up to the decision. How receptive one is to being influenced or how free is one’s choice is an equation of numerous unknown factors but unfree from first to last, unfurl the mast but swim in place where the brain may race.

    #52223

    Unseen
    Participant

    If determinism precludes free will, so does randomness. If someone has a biological random number generator (or bio-analog) generating his behavior, well that sure sounds like insanity to me. On the other hand, if our behavior is determined by our synapses and our personal histories, both beyond our control, I’m far more comfortable with that.

    Aren’t you?

    #52224

    unapologetic
    Participant

    Cats! (harumph)
    ‘Anything on the floor is mine.
    Anything I can knock on the floor is mine too.’
    (I’m starting this thread at a time when my cat is in the next room doing something noisiey to get my attention.)
    We have ‘will’. The amount of ‘freedom’ in it varies from decision to decison.
    The concept of ‘Free Will’ was invented by the cult so they can claime they invented the actual ‘Free Will’.
    We would still have it/use it, even if we never stopped to think about it.

    #52226

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    You still haven’t, despite about three requests now, given us the definition of free will or told me whether my cat has free will.

    For me too, that’s the elephant in the kitchen. Or maybe the bathroom. Or homunculus. (jk, see?) One of the believed-in implications is that there is a soul or other supernatural force that magically endows us with free will.

    Brains have evolved in ways that further enhance our ability to procreate. It’s as simple as that. Any free choice we feel we might have has been limited, by Nature, to that end.

    While we are truly agents, at the body plus brain level, that control much of our destiny, based on experience and being able to sense and comprehend our environment. We are decision-making machines/beings. Socialization, complex communication, competition and planning for future encounters to the point of killing each other also furthered survival in some cases. All in line with spreading our genes, for better and for worse, even in the face of debilitating mental diseases that Nature didn’t have time to sort out of our extremely rapid, cultural evolution.

    Having these biological and mentally preternatural abilities in no way means that we have souls or free agency in our brains. But it does mean we’re “endowed” to imagine such preternatural abilities as special gifts, or even as gifts from above. While opinions differ on how to explain these gifts, delusions, and illusions.

    It’s the feelings that we have, that usurp logic and full understanding of ourselves. While it’s feelings that have also driven us since our beginnings. And I’ll bet that’s also at least partly true for cats, and any animal with significant enough brain capacity. We lie on spectrums of brain capacity, including delusions, illusions, and dysfunctions, alongside effectively adapting to realities that surround us. We can call this unintelligent design, run amok, which btw, can also mean “running without control”.

    Back to the elephant, how can any discussion make any sense without more agreement on the terms we use? I think our conundrum comes to not agreeing on terms, not accepting the significant differences between logic and feelings, and not fully understanding the powers and interactions of each.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by  PopeBeanie. Reason: bunch of late edits, sorry. i'm done now
    #52227

    _Robert_
    Participant

    If determinism precludes free will, so does randomness. If someone has a biological random number generator (or bio-analog) generating his behavior, well that sure sounds like insanity to me. On the other hand, if our behavior is determined by our synapses and our personal histories, both beyond our control, I’m far more comfortable with that. Aren’t you?

    Every system is influenced by random noise. If you have Parkinson’s, you probably have a great deal of experience with random nerve impulses, but everyone has twitches that may influence their behavior. As your teeth start chattering one can wonder how independent of noise our brain really is, or perhaps it is a key component in the decisions we make.

    #52229

    Unseen
    Participant

    Every system is influenced by random noise. If you have Parkinson’s, you probably have a great deal of experience with random nerve impulses, but everyone has twitches that may influence their behavior. As your teeth start chattering one can wonder how independent of noise our brain really is, or perhaps it is a key component in the decisions we make.

    I think the subatomic level “leaks” random influences into the upper level where we behave. Just add it into the rest of the stuff in the black box behavior generator that generates how we behave. It certainly doesn’t give us free will. LOL

    #52230

    _Robert_
    Participant

    Every system is influenced by random noise. If you have Parkinson’s, you probably have a great deal of experience with random nerve impulses, but everyone has twitches that may influence their behavior. As your teeth start chattering one can wonder how independent of noise our brain really is, or perhaps it is a key component in the decisions we make.

    I think the subatomic level “leaks” random influences into the upper level where we behave. Just add it into the rest of the stuff in the black box behavior generator that generates how we behave. It certainly doesn’t give us free will. LOL

    I sort of suspect this as well. I woke up today with a plan in my mind. My day did not resemble that plan very much at all. They do often go astray, you know.

    #52249

    Unseen
    Participant

    On one level, if we do not have free will, one can wonder what, then, is the difference between a person acting normally and someone acting under what we would call a compulsion or due to insanity? Surely, there must be a difference.

    I think there is. We don’t think of someone as being compulsive or insane as long as their actions make sense to us in any number of ways. If someone behaves in a way that benefits himself or someone he knows, for example. If he acts out of some form of necessity, such as running into a burning building to save someone or retrieve something important, even if compulsive in a sense, it is rational.

    So, someone with an extreme OCD like obsessive handwashing or Tourette’s syndrome is basically self-destructive as is a person who immolates himself for no reason (the person who does so as a political protest is an interesting case, though).

    Even though we aren’t free, we mostly act ways that benefit us or which we believe will benefit us.

    Those who try to rescue free will often approach it in a way like this: If no one made you do it and if you werent forced to do it by circumstances, that’s freedom enough. Basically, stopping the analysis before it gets uncomfortable.

    In a hard science that would be like, “Well, the higher you go on a mountain, the colder it gets, so the closer you get to the Sun, the colder it gets. So, the Sun is cold. No need to look further.”

    #52250

    jakelafort
    Participant

    More i think about more convinced that those persuaded by notion we have free will are either ignorant in that they’ve never truly pondered the issues or have succumbed to that same narcissism driving belief in gods or superstition.

    I’d love to hear any definition of free will that makes sense.

    #52251

    Unseen
    Participant

    More i think about more convinced that those persuaded by notion we have free will are either ignorant in that they’ve never truly pondered the issues or have succumbed to that same narcissism driving belief in gods or superstition.

    I’d love to hear any definition of free will that makes sense.

    You and me both.

    #52263

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    I’d love to hear any definition of free will that makes sense.

    It’s a mythical construct. But it feels like there’s more to it than that. Depending on who’s defining it, it can be a gift from God that usurps determinism. But according to me, believing in determinism, the illusion of free will is a gift, too, and I’m happy with feeling like I have it. No need to argue against the illusion just to fix what’s not broken.

    #52264

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    Hypothetically, if you were suddenly able to know if you actually had free will or discovered that you don’t have it, would that significantly change the way you live your life? Even if you knew what a “reasonable” definition of it is?

    My conclusion is no, I don’t care any more, so I’ll just keep acting as if it’s really me choosing how to behave. Can anyone think of an alternative way to believe? And what difference would it make?

    #52267

    Unseen
    Participant

    @ PopeBeanie

    I’m curious if you read my discussion above of the difference between not having free will and being insane or having an obsessive-compulsive behavior. If we aren’t free, then what’s the difference between that and someone who truly has no control?

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