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Author Topic: Free Will, Religion, Choice (Jude & Brandon)  (Read 2227 times)

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Offline JudeTopic starter

Free Will, Religion, Choice (Jude & Brandon)
« on: July 21, 2010, 03:27:10 PM »
Discuss if you wish, and whatnot.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2010, 03:39:39 PM by Jude »

Offline Noelle

Re: Free Will, Religion, Choice (Jude & Brandon)
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2010, 03:37:48 AM »
I've been following the discussion a bit, and I have a few things of my own to tack on.

First thing being the habit of beating the dictionary to death -- using it like it's going out of style. Regardless of Jude's point that the dictionary is not a reliable source, I'm just going to say fine, let's pretend for a moment that formal logic is irrelevant and play by Brandon's rules.

Brandon, I've decided to take some key words that keep getting tossed around to show you what the dictionary says about them.

But first:
When you are born and raised from infancy to roughly the age of 18, you're right -- religion is not a choice because children are incapable of the kind of rational thought that can properly analyze the messages they are being given. But you know what else you learn from infancy? Eating habits. Lifestyle habits. Styles of speech. Behavior. All things you have a choice to alter later on when you are able to consider them properly. All things that are criticized by others freely on a daily basis. You can learn to eat nothing but junk food growing up and then realize later on that it is not beneficial to your desired lifestyle, and though it may be difficult due to years of learned behavior, it is entirely possible to change.

Adults are developed enough to be able to look at the things they believe and decide if they're beneficial, moral, rational, if they line up to how others behave, with how they perceive themselves, with how they'd like to be perceived, etc. There are people who are raised to hate homosexuals through their religion who later re-evaluate said belief and realize that it has no logical grounding -- that it is baseless -- and though they may take time to readjust, if they are truly troubled by something they see as inconsistent, a belief that they later are able to analyze and test, then they can make the choice to do so -- or choose to go on living in comfortable ignorance. It happens on a daily basis for things much more petty than that.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves, why not define 'belief' while we're at it?

something believed; an opinion or conviction: a belief that the earth is flat.
confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof: a statement unworthy of belief.
confidence; faith; trust: a child's belief in his parents.
a religious tenet or tenets; religious creed or faith: the Christian belief.

And just in case you're not sure what a tenet is?

   /ˈtɛnɪt; Brit. also ˈtinɪt/ Show Spelled[ten-it; Brit. also tee-nit] Show IPA
any opinion, principle, doctrine, dogma, etc., esp. one held as true by members of a profession, group, or movement.

Essentially, what the dictionary -- your source -- is saying is that your belief is an opinion. Simple question for you now: Can you or can you not change your opinions? Well, good sir, I would venture to say that if you believe in free will (and whether or not it exists is not my concern at this point; for the sake of argument/my actual scope of interest in the subject, we'll say it does), then by its very definition that I will provide to you in a moment, free will enables mankind to choose to believe in (to develop an opinion on) religion.

free will
free and independent choice; voluntary decision: You took on the responsibility of your own free will.
Philosophy . the doctrine that the conduct of human beings expresses personal choice and is not simply determined by physical or divine forces.

But here's where the fun really starts. If the dictionary was insufficient for you, let's give logic a go.

P1: All humans have free will (A)
P2: No humans can exercise free will in religion (E)
C: All humans have free will. (A)

This is an affirmative conclusion from a negative premise.

If humans can exercise free will on everything except (insert exception here), then humans do not have free will because they are limited in some way or another, which makes your belief in free will illogical, which makes your argument for it invalid. Sorry, but the princess is in another castle.

As far as anti-theism being on the same lines of racism? Riddle me this, Batman:
Can you stop being black for a day to blend in? Can you decide to go race-shopping because the one you have doesn't fit with your lifestyle? Can you just not talk about being black so you don't give yourself away? Can humans exercise free will over their race? I think we both know the answer to these.

Offline Shoshana

Re: Free Will, Religion, Choice (Jude & Brandon)
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2010, 06:02:22 PM »
Oy. I had a long post here that I managed to delete instead of edit.  :'(

I just thought the dialogue needed a better look at religion--and what makes a person a part of it and how it functions as part of each individual's identity. This is especially true, I think, when you're dealing with non-credal, highly cultural religions like Judaism or Hinduism. 

I used Judaism as an example, because believing this or that doesn't make you a Jew. Maybe we can chuck the beliefs we're raised with, maybe we can't--but that doesn't matter as much in Judaism as it would in a credal religion like Christianity. Christianity puts a high emphasis on what you believe; you can argue that if you don't believe in thus and thus, you're not a Christian. (Not everyone will agree with that argument--some say you can be culturally Christian--but it's still a respectable argument.) That situation doesn't exist in Judaism, a religion that doesn't emphasize creed.

So Christopher Hitchens, an outspoken atheist, is every bit as Jewish as the deeply theist author Herman Wouk. In fact, every synagogue tends to have its share of atheists or agnostics. Judaism is much more concerned with what you do than what you believe. And if Chris Hitchens stumbled into my synagogue, we'd throw a prayer shawl over his shoulders and count him as part of our minyan (quorum) no matter how loudly he said he didn't believe in G-d.  ;)

It's also hard to stop being Jewish.  If you're born to a Jewish mother, or convert at any point in your life, you often (maybe not always, but often) find yourself stuck. Even if you decide you're not Jewish, and even if you convert to another religion or to no religion, you still tend to get labeled a Jew. Bobby Fischer, for example, could say as many times as he wanted that he wasn't Jewish; Wikipedia still lists him as a Jewish chess player.

This isn't because Judaism is a race--although some people use "Jewish" as an ethnic identity. But there are white Jews, black Jews, Asian Jews, born Jews, Jews who converted to the religion . . . so it's not quite an ethnic identy.

So, again, I think the discussion needs to look hard at what a religion is. It's interesting to speculate on how much of our beliefs are a given from the way we were raised, but even if we have complete free will over what we believe, that doesn't mean we can just chuck our religious identities with ease.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2010, 06:13:16 PM by Shoshana »

Offline JudeTopic starter

Re: Free Will, Religion, Choice (Jude & Brandon)
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2010, 06:04:18 PM »
That's a good point; the discuss we've had is heavily framed on the Christian notion of religion without paying attention to all of the alternative possibilities.