A Reply to Christian Apologist on Bertrand Russell

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Warren Kincaid
Commenter

Your logo simply has a spiritual component. The fact that you chose it for precise reasons links you to a spiritual nature that cannot be denied (actually it strengthens it). If the simpler reason is usually the right reason why does the complicated “scientific” explanation of a determined choice win over a free will position? The details can be the same… the conclusions can be different. I thought we already agreed on that definition.

Nicholas Lamar Soutter
Admin

Yes, I picked the logo–for very precise reasons, some conscious, some subconscious. How does that prove (or even suggest) free will in the sense I described above, a sense beyond a deterministic conclusion reached by my brain?

Occam’s razor states that given two or more possible explanations for something, the simpler explanation is usually the correct one.

Warren Kincaid
Commenter

Does anything change in the universe if we do have free will? Evidence in human behavior would suggest we do have it. Since when did we start to worry about simple explanations? To see the “spiritual component” within the details (and act on it) is a choice made by everyone. Again… I’ll point to your Logo.

J.S. MacLean
Commenter

The idea that questioning the idea of free will suggests that things happen with no reason is silly and just a dishonest ploy. I think we all have a general idea that we have the experience of ‘choosing’ but to link that to ‘God’ is just silly. The world is full of mystery, no need make up purely imaginary ones.

Nicholas Lamar Soutter
Admin

J.S. MacLean I misunderstood. I got the impression you felt that the idea of questioning it was silly and dishonest, but on a second read, I don’t think that’s what you said.

J.S. MacLean
Commenter

Exactly who is assuming free will?

Nicholas Lamar Soutter
Admin

Well, the universe is full of mystery, and there are things we don’t understand, and I’ve no objection to that–dark matter, dark energy, I’m happy to accept there’s a lot we don’t know.

But this one strikes me as quite clear the brain is capable of a greater number of calculable permutations than there are atomic particles in the universe. It seems to me that since we can be conscious of only the tiniest fraction of them, that the illusion of free will would naturally arise. Of course, we’d think we have free will. But it isn’t needed to understand how we work, so why would you ADD a superfluous layer to it. Occam’s razor would suggest if we don’t need free will to explain our behavior, we shouldn’t add it.

Or to borrow from Pierre-Simon Laplace: Our understanding of human decision making works very well without the assumption of free will.

Nicholas Lamar Soutter
Admin

Warren Kincaid Let me see if I can answer your question. Can you define free will?

Nicholas Lamar Soutter
Admin

Warren Kincaid First of all, I’m not sure what you mean by “mean”. As I pointed out, why does there have to be meaning? That’s a human bias. Secondly…. Is there a reason you make your choices? If there’s a reason, if you deduced your choice out of personal preference derived from experience and genetics, then it wasn’t “free will” but a deduced choice. If there is no reason, then are you just making things up? Are your choices random?

Nicholas Lamar Soutter
Admin

J.S. MacLean Other than some elements of string theory, which is nowhere near worked out, I know of no evidence that the world is not deterministic… in fact I can’t fathom how it could not be. Are you saying that there events which occur which have no cause?

Leonard Vine
Commenter

He’s my man !……https://youtu.be/tP4FDLegX9s

Bob Claxton
Commenter

Lacks depth. Fine for one individual to turn off the lights and ignore the obvious but does little to explain the majority of view of the world that disagrees. Even in the obscure reason “perception is reality” the majority perception cannot be dismissed. “Why I Am Not A Christian” is an ancient (90 year old) argument that does not hold water today. It probably really did not in the age it was considered but what one person accepts or rejects is and why is difficult to explain and of no value to the majority.

Warren Kincaid
Commenter

I’m always intrigued by the Atheists necessity to destroy the concept of “free will”. We don’t live that way, teach that way or nurture that way. Simply giving a scientific description of how we think something works does not mean that we don’t have power over it, or that it somehow doesn’t exist. “Free will” must be linked so closely to the existence of God that Atheists are scared of it.

Nicholas Lamar Soutter
Admin

Warren Kincaid No offence taken.

I’m saying I simply see no evidence for this spiritual component. It’s comforting, but the world as we know it operates just fine without that assumption.

Are there things we don’t understand? Sure, LOADS. But filling it in with ‘spirituality’ is just falling back on God of the Gaps.

If you assume there is no free will, nothing we understand about the universe changes. The universe would operate the same. Occam would therefore suggest it isn’t there. It’s the simpler explanation.

Warren Kincaid
Commenter

Please use the direct and simple definition of “we” and “I” (just like you used it to me). However, it is possible, given the same details, to see a spiritual component in them….or not. And that’s where free will comes into play in a conversation like this. You may say that as an Atheist, science and a strictly humanistic understanding stands at the top (what else could there be?). I may say that science and humanism answers to, and is existent beholding to something above it. Same details, different conclusions. I’d claim that there’s a spiritual component both inside and outside the brain before we even attempt to define what a “spiritual component” is. It appears to be something mankind cannot divorce himself from. Not even denying it fully removes one from the “component”. No offense to you… it just seems to be the way things are. Even your FB home page logo seems to have a strong spiritual component to it. (it’s trying to tell me something that strict science cannot). This falls way short of defining any sort of religion. It only prods at the “free will” choice of seeing a “spiritual component” in details… or not, of course. And of course “free will” is not confined to only this subject.

Nicholas Lamar Soutter
Admin

Well, I think I’d agree fully with that definition, but then I’d need a definition of “we” or “I”. If that “I” included a spiritual component outside the brain, I’d object. If not, then there’s nothing you’ve said I’d disagree with.

Warren Kincaid
Commenter

I have no problem understanding free will at all. I hope my children love me out of a free will to do so and not some scientific theory that sterilizes it. Even when they don’t like me very much, they still chose to love me. It’s not about the scientific equation that leads us to where we are. It’s how we interpret the details. We have the free will to interpret and internalize things one way or another. Same details, different results. In that process we find free will. I don’t know how to put it any simpler.

Nicholas Lamar Soutter
Admin

Warren Kincaid I genuinely have never been able to understand the concept of free will (counter intuitive to me, like ‘randomness’–an event without a cause… makes no sense). Can you give me a definition that maybe we can work with?

Nicholas Lamar Soutter
Admin

Warren Kincaid Well your suspicions as to why are probably half right. It would undermine a great deal of atheist arguments. However that’s dismissive- both since the reverse is true (why do theists hang on to it? I have my suspicions) and implies they ‘hang on’ for disingenuous reasons. I believed there was no free will long before I became an atheist. Makes common sense to me.

J.S. MacLean
Commenter

These are just words. Sure there is the preception of free will…we all get that. But choosing the red shirt over the green one is not really free. The choice is limited, you cannot know all the pertinent information, and the decider is changing each instant. You cannot stop ‘deciding to actually ‘decide’ as the moment you do you limit the freedom. So yeah we all know what you are talking about but don’t trot it out as some proof of something completely unrelated. Cogitating is fun sometimes and is generally useful.

J.S. MacLean
Commenter

For indeterminism try radioactive decay, entanglement, and the general complexity of predicting something that does not yet exist. It might work well in the Newtonian world but at other levels, not so much. Chaos and probabilities are alive and well.

Warren Kincaid
Commenter

I think it’s the ultimate choice to do one thing over another. Of course it will be based on how a person reasons and views things obviously, but “free will” stands apart from a pre-determined point of reference that is solely based on a scientific definition. We seem to live in a time that everything needs to line up with science or be given a science based explanation. And somehow that science-based explanation disproves the existence of “God” in the biblical sense. I don’t buy that line of logic. Science seeks the “particulars” of how things are and how they function. I’m good with that as far as science can accurately describe them. But “universals” stand behind the particulars (just like laws stand behind actions). Free will is a human universal that is evidenced by our behavior, no matter how it’s scientifically explained. If anything…. “free will” proves that we are not pre-determined and we have the freedom to see things in a new light and change direction whenever we want. This moves us to the next step that we probably call “evidence”. ps: when I say “mean”, I mean what I mean. We have free will to look at our world and draw our own conclusions. If our conclusions don’t line up, or fail to complete what we see or think we understand (as we’re never mentally standing still) we have the free will to draw other conclusions and act on them. To me… the denial of free will is a cheap attempt to close the door of “choice” in the name of a scientific precept. Perhaps it’s semantics but the Atheist view-point seems to cling to it pretty heavily. I have my suspicions as to why.

Nicholas Lamar Soutter
Admin

Warren Kincaid Because it seems so unlikely, in fact rather contradictory, that we would have it.

Warren Kincaid
Commenter

Then why do Atheists deny the concept of free will so adamantly?

J.S. MacLean
Commenter

The whole ‘free will debate’ is silly. Obviously decisions are based at least in part on knowledge and experience so not totally free. On the other the world is not totally deterministic either. We do not understand the very space and time we live in, why make up crazy crap when we are still working on the basics. Physics is way more wonderful than religion’s inventions.

Warren Kincaid
Commenter

Respectfully… I am of the opinion that you used free will to state your views. If you did not, then they mean nothing as you were already pre-programmed to do so. How could you do any other? I, on the other hand, have been given the right to free will and have the option of acting on your words or not. Thanks.

John Termaten
Commenter

God gave man free will, but when he saw what they did, he did not liked it and drowned humanity. It is not me who is living scared, It is you. I for one do not need an empty promise for the after live. I live my life as a humanists, and good person. If your God wants me to praise hem every hour in the day then your god is to self centered and vain .

Pat Mc Ginley
Commenter

How do ‘believers’ reconcile the Bible account of human origins with the fact that most people have some Neanderthal DNA because some humans migrating from Africa – the birthplace of human evolution – mated with Neanderthals? Further proof is the fact that Africans whose ancestors never left Africa have no Neanderthal DNA.