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Author Topic: Free Will, Religion, Choice (Jude & Brandon)  (Read 2038 times)

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Offline JudeTopic starter

Free Will, Religion, Choice (Jude & Brandon)
« on: July 21, 2010, 03:39:18 PM »
Continued from:  http://elliquiy.com/forums/index.php?topic=75539.275

Since we're out of the constraint of a particular thread, I'll be revisiting some points since I no longer have to stay on topic.  Bear with me.

Free Will, Choice, and the Dictionary

Since you're so fond of quoting dictionary definitions, I think I'll start with that:  Free Will (Philosophy) - The doctrine that  the conduct  of human beings expresses personal choice and is not simply determined by physical or divine forces.

You keep arguing that religion is not a choice since belief in religion is based entirely on personality and upbringing.  Ignoring the problem with your assertion that belief cannot be dissected and understood so precisely as to exclude other factors, how exactly is going with a particular option because of your personality not personal choice?

Lets see, what does personal mean:  of, pertaining to, or coming as from a particular person.  And choice: an act or instance of choosing;  selection.  So, personal choice is the particular position being selected coming from that person.  How is this not the case given all of the arguments you've made?

The real problem with all of the arguments I just made, is that the dictionary is not a real resource.  The dictionary offers definitions to terms based on commonly accepted ideas, not definitions that reflect actual truth.  So much of the arguments made are based on this incorrect characterization of just what it is that a dictionary attempts to be; you've been using it like a rigid body of factual definitions.

Free Will and Religion

Free will is a philosophical concept and so there isn't really a hard and fast definition of it.  We can argue what it really means and try to put together something more solid, but to do so would require us to essentially come up with our own philosophical definition that is sufficiently concrete; which is not an easy task.  So lets agree on something a little more nebulous.

Believing in the existence of free will is the position that there is a component of the self which lies apart from our experiences and innate tendencies that has an influence over the decisions that we make.

Feel free to criticize the definition and/or give our own, but from that idea, how can you possibly be certain that free will does not affect religion?  What is it about religion that this concept of free will cannot touch when you contend it touches all else?  Religion is very close to politics, they both fall under the umbrella of philosophy and often someone's religion informs their political philosophy and vice versa.

You must also believe that everything associated with religion, then, is also not a choice.  Such as morals.  From there, the very actions that we take are not a choice.  As you can see, determinism spreads like a plague.

The Existence of Free Will

The dictionary's definition and the one I provided both eventually lead to the same problem ultimately.  In the dictionary's definition it mentions that the choices made must be separate from "physical causes," yet there is not a single shred of evidence that there is anything human that transcends physicality.  Our personality, our previous experiences, everything we do is all stored within the gray matter between our ears; there is no reason to believe anything different, or that thought isn't a physical process as well.  If everything can be relegated to the physical realm, and there is no reason to believe it cannot be (note:  no reason, I understand faith and religion say otherwise), then choice does not exist by definition.

The problem if you examine free will using the definition I gave, is that it's an ad hoc hypothesis.  There's no evidence to support the existence of free will.  You will contend that people's mere thought that they believe they are making a choice is enough to prove that they are (at least that's the logic you used before), yet at the same time you deny that religion is a choice even when theologians (such as Thomas Aquinas) are adamantly convinced that religious choices are made (not to mention it's a basic tent of the faith that most believers are also convinced of)--so that logic is clearly not permissible (as well as for other reasons).

There's a great deal of evidence that free will does not exist.  For example, the brain is aware that a decision is made before the conscious mind actually believes it has made the decision.  I won't bother to bombard you with links to research, unless that's something you want to get into.  But I can tell you, I didn't really find any scientific evidence in my review of the literature that solidly indicates free will does exist, whereas I came upon a number of journals that conclude otherwise.

A World Without Choice

If everything is free or nothing is free, then ultimately we're back where we started.  We can't stop curbing dangerous behaviors simply because choices aren't actually being made as long as our attempts to do so are able to change the determinations being made (and they clearly are).

Determining what behaviors are open to criticism and outright control is still a matter of personal philosophy and morality.  If a particular behavior is dangerous to the self, that's a gray area, but when it is to others, the picture becomes quite clear.

I'll let the anti-theists make their own arguments in this regard; if they want to presuppose that religion is dangerous, why shouldn't they have the right to do so as long as they can back it up?  And you have ever right to argue back.

But in trying to paint anti-theism as the same as racism, sexism, and homophobia, you are trying to silence opinions that you don't agree with ultimately because they hurt your feelings.  I don't see how this is anything but censorship and extremely troubling at that.

Offline Brandon

Re: Free Will, Religion, Choice (Jude & Brandon)
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2010, 07:45:44 PM »
Continued from:  http://elliquiy.com/forums/index.php?topic=75539.275

Since we're out of the constraint of a particular thread, I'll be revisiting some points since I no longer have to stay on topic.  Bear with me.

Free Will, Choice, and the Dictionary

Since you're so fond of quoting dictionary definitions, I think I'll start with that:  Free Will (Philosophy) - The doctrine that  the conduct  of human beings expresses personal choice and is not simply determined by physical or divine forces.

You keep arguing that religion is not a choice since belief in religion is based entirely on personality and upbringing.  Ignoring the problem with your assertion that belief cannot be dissected and understood so precisely as to exclude other factors, how exactly is going with a particular option because of your personality not personal choice?

Lets see, what does personal mean:  of, pertaining to, or coming as from a particular person.  And choice: an act or instance of choosing;  selection.  So, personal choice is the particular position being selected coming from that person.  How is this not the case given all of the arguments you've made?

The real problem with all of the arguments I just made, is that the dictionary is not a real resource.  The dictionary offers definitions to terms based on commonly accepted ideas, not definitions that reflect actual truth.  So much of the arguments made are based on this incorrect characterization of just what it is that a dictionary attempts to be; you've been using it like a rigid body of factual definitions.

Fair enough, we can explore other topics but no more goalkeeping on me Jude. Im not going to sit here and let you go through an entire dictionary of words till you find something that works. As i said before, that in and of itself falls under the distraction fallacy as it forces me into a "wild goose chase" for an argument that works.

The dictionary is as factual a resource as anything can be for defining words in the English language. There have been many times where people having used words incorrectly and by posting a definition I can prove at the very least that they misunderstand. For example, when I told you that you had to force yourself to believe something you threw choice into it, when by definition there is not choice only aggressive force. You used the word wrong and that skewed your responses

Now look at what choice is. Conscious selection of options right? Believing in something with all ones soul  takes away conscious and selection. Therefore its not a choice and its not free will (can we agree that these words are petty much synonomous with each other?)



Free Will and Religion

Free will is a philosophical concept and so there isn't really a hard and fast definition of it.  We can argue what it really means and try to put together something more solid, but to do so would require us to essentially come up with our own philosophical definition that is sufficiently concrete; which is not an easy task.  So lets agree on something a little more nebulous.

Believing in the existence of free will is the position that there is a component of the self which lies apart from our experiences and innate tendencies that has an influence over the decisions that we make.

Feel free to criticize the definition and/or give our own, but from that idea, how can you possibly be certain that free will does not affect religion?  What is it about religion that this concept of free will cannot touch when you contend it touches all else?  Religion is very close to politics, they both fall under the umbrella of philosophy and often someone's religion informs their political philosophy and vice versa.

You must also believe that everything associated with religion, then, is also not a choice.  Such as morals.  From there, the very actions that we take are not a choice.  As you can see, determinism spreads like a plague.

Im not sure why but your definition of free will doesnt seem to fit for me, I think thats because it seems dehumanizing to me. Obviously you can use mine if you like. Although I am confused, I thought we agreed to drop the existance of free will debate and here it seems to be coming up again

I told you before that a person shapes their beliefs due to the conclusions they develop while growing up. When a person achieves adulthood if they believe in the faith they were raised in (assuming they were raised in one) they continue to believe and worship/practice. If they dont believe, or in my case never really did, they stop and move on but they continue to watch and wait till they find a religion that matches or exemplifies their beliefs or till one finds them. At that time the individual is already one of them

The reason why Im certain that free will doesnt influence core beliefs is because free will implies choice or conscious selection of options. The formation of beliefs, based on the individuals conclusions from the world around us, is neither selection of options or conscious. Some would say they are subconscious but whatever the case they are internal and not chosen. Think about this for a moment, lets say you hate spinich, thats your belief, your conclusion developed from tasting spinich before. Can you choose, imposing your free will, to like spinich?

The Existence of Free Will

The dictionary's definition and the one I provided both eventually lead to the same problem ultimately.  In the dictionary's definition it mentions that the choices made must be separate from "physical causes," yet there is not a single shred of evidence that there is anything human that transcends physicality.  Our personality, our previous experiences, everything we do is all stored within the gray matter between our ears; there is no reason to believe anything different, or that thought isn't a physical process as well.  If everything can be relegated to the physical realm, and there is no reason to believe it cannot be (note:  no reason, I understand faith and religion say otherwise), then choice does not exist by definition.

The problem if you examine free will using the definition I gave, is that it's an ad hoc hypothesis.  There's no evidence to support the existence of free will.  You will contend that people's mere thought that they believe they are making a choice is enough to prove that they are (at least that's the logic you used before), yet at the same time you deny that religion is a choice even when theologians (such as Thomas Aquinas) are adamantly convinced that religious choices are made (not to mention it's a basic tent of the faith that most believers are also convinced of)--so that logic is clearly not permissible (as well as for other reasons).

There's a great deal of evidence that free will does not exist.  For example, the brain is aware that a decision is made before the conscious mind actually believes it has made the decision.  I won't bother to bombard you with links to research, unless that's something you want to get into.  But I can tell you, I didn't really find any scientific evidence in my review of the literature that solidly indicates free will does exist, whereas I came upon a number of journals that conclude otherwise.

I dont understand the point of this. You said "Let us assume free will exists, that is a difficult entity to define, and science hasn't discovered the exact mechanism because it's complicated." You agreed to this, thats you talking not me, so why are we still here? Instead of rehashing this all over again, we should be assuming that free will exists, that we dont understand it, and discussing how Religion is not a choice

A World Without Choice

If everything is free or nothing is free, then ultimately we're back where we started.  We can't stop curbing dangerous behaviors simply because choices aren't actually being made as long as our attempts to do so are able to change the determinations being made (and they clearly are).

Determining what behaviors are open to criticism and outright control is still a matter of personal philosophy and morality.  If a particular behavior is dangerous to the self, that's a gray area, but when it is to others, the picture becomes quite clear.

I'll let the anti-theists make their own arguments in this regard; if they want to presuppose that religion is dangerous, why shouldn't they have the right to do so as long as they can back it up?  And you have ever right to argue back.

But in trying to paint anti-theism as the same as racism, sexism, and homophobia, you are trying to silence opinions that you don't agree with ultimately because they hurt your feelings.  I don't see how this is anything but censorship and extremely troubling at that.

I think you misunderstand me. This isnt about what people say out in the world, free speech is fine no matter how hate fueled it is. This is about Elliquiy and what people can and do say here.

Offline Brandon

Re: Free Will, Religion, Choice (Jude & Brandon)
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2010, 10:38:24 PM »
Fair enough, we can explore other topics but no more goalkeeping on me Jude. Im not going to sit here and let you go through an entire dictionary of words till you find something that works. As i said before, that in and of itself falls under the distraction fallacy as it forces me into a "wild goose chase" for an argument that works.

The dictionary is as factual a resource as anything can be for defining words in the English language. There have been many times where people having used words incorrectly and by posting a definition I can prove at the very least that they misunderstand. For example, when I told you that you had to force yourself to believe something you threw choice into it, when by definition there is not choice only aggressive force. You used the word wrong and that skewed your responses

Now look at what choice is. Conscious selection of options right? Believing in something with all ones soul  takes away conscious and selection. Therefore its not a choice and its not free will (can we agree that these words are petty much synonomous with each other?)



Im not sure why but your definition of free will doesnt seem to fit for me, I think thats because it seems dehumanizing to me. Obviously you can use mine if you like. Although I am confused, I thought we agreed to drop the existance of free will debate and here it seems to be coming up again

I told you before that a person shapes their beliefs due to the conclusions they develop while growing up. When a person achieves adulthood if they believe in the faith they were raised in (assuming they were raised in one) they continue to believe and worship/practice. If they dont believe, or in my case never really did, they stop and move on but they continue to watch and wait till they find a religion that matches or exemplifies their beliefs or till one finds them. At that time the individual is already one of them

The reason why Im certain that free will doesnt influence core beliefs is because free will implies choice or conscious selection of options. The formation of beliefs, based on the individuals conclusions from the world around us, is neither selection of options or conscious. Some would say they are subconscious but whatever the case they are internal and not chosen. Think about this for a moment, lets say you hate spinich, thats your belief, your conclusion developed from tasting spinich before. Can you choose, imposing your free will, to like spinich?

I dont understand the point of this. You said "Let us assume free will exists, that is a difficult entity to define, and science hasn't discovered the exact mechanism because it's complicated." You agreed to this, thats you talking not me, so why are we still here? Instead of rehashing this all over again, we should be assuming that free will exists, that we dont understand it, and discussing how Religion is not a choice

I think you misunderstand me. This isnt about what people say out in the world, free speech is fine no matter how hate fueled it is. Even though that still bothers me, legally I cant do anything about it. This is about Elliquiy and what people can and do say here.

Offline Brandon

Re: Free Will, Religion, Choice (Jude & Brandon)
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2010, 10:44:02 PM »
Now thats interesting, i went to add in a sentance and didnt notice that there isnt a modify part, just a quote part. Ill have to get used to that :P

Offline JudeTopic starter

Re: Free Will, Religion, Choice (Jude & Brandon)
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2010, 01:43:11 AM »
Fair enough, we can explore other topics but no more goalkeeping on me Jude. Im not going to sit here and let you go through an entire dictionary of words till you find something that works. As i said before, that in and of itself falls under the distraction fallacy as it forces me into a "wild goose chase" for an argument that works.
You don't seem to understand what the moving the goalpost fallacy is.  The moving the goalpost fallacy is when a burden of proof is set, then once the claim has been met the criteria is changed.  I didn't set a criteria for proof for you, so it's not applicable.

When you propose an idea, it doesn't endure a set amount of criticism then is automatically accepted.  If that were true, we'd still believe in Newton's laws and be blissfully unaware of relativity.
The dictionary is as factual a resource as anything can be for defining words in the English language. There have been many times where people having used words incorrectly and by posting a definition I can prove at the very least that they misunderstand. For example, when I told you that you had to force yourself to believe something you threw choice into it, when by definition there is not choice only aggressive force. You used the word wrong and that skewed your responses
The dictionary provides a reference for what words are commonly understood to mean.  It does not provide an accurately rigorous basis for deductive debate.  That's why there's what called "first order languages" in logic (which are languages in which the dictionaries do provide such a deductive foundation).
Now look at what choice is. Conscious selection of options right? Believing in something with all ones soul  takes away conscious and selection. Therefore its not a choice and its not free will (can we agree that these words are petty much synonomous with each other?)
You used the soul word again.
Im not sure why but your definition of free will doesnt seem to fit for me, I think thats because it seems dehumanizing to me. Obviously you can use mine if you like. Although I am confused, I thought we agreed to drop the existance of free will debate and here it seems to be coming up again
We agreed in the previous thread because it was too far off-topic, now that we're in a more open format it's definitely worth debating as its central to your entire premise.
I told you before that a person shapes their beliefs due to the conclusions they develop while growing up. When a person achieves adulthood if they believe in the faith they were raised in (assuming they were raised in one) they continue to believe and worship/practice. If they dont believe, or in my case never really did, they stop and move on but they continue to watch and wait till they find a religion that matches or exemplifies their beliefs or till one finds them. At that time the individual is already one of them
Conclusions they develop; do they have a choice in these conclusions?  Wouldn't the sum of choices be a choice?  You still haven't explained what makes religion special.
The reason why Im certain that free will doesnt influence core beliefs is because free will implies choice or conscious selection of options. The formation of beliefs, based on the individuals conclusions from the world around us, is neither selection of options or conscious. Some would say they are subconscious but whatever the case they are internal and not chosen. Think about this for a moment, lets say you hate spinich, thats your belief, your conclusion developed from tasting spinich before. Can you choose, imposing your free will, to like spinich?
No, but you don't "taste" religion either.  Religion is a complicated concept, spinach is simply a matter of basic sensory input which is determined desirable or not; you're comparing high concepts to base perceptions.
I dont understand the point of this. You said "Let us assume free will exists, that is a difficult entity to define, and science hasn't discovered the exact mechanism because it's complicated." You agreed to this, thats you talking not me, so why are we still here? Instead of rehashing this all over again, we should be assuming that free will exists, that we dont understand it, and discussing how Religion is not a choice
The assumption was in a separate setting at the beginning of an argument for a reason.  You don't seem to understand how proof by contradiction works, so I'll explain.  You assume a concept is true than draw contradictions or undesired consequences from that particular assumption in an effort to show cracks in the theory.
I think you misunderstand me. This isnt about what people say out in the world, free speech is fine no matter how hate fueled it is. This is about Elliquiy and what people can and do say here.
It's still coercive to try and paint a type of discussion in such a negative light instead of simply ignoring it if it bothers you or arguing against it.  What they say can do you no harm unless your beliefs are that fragile that you must protect them from dissenting opinion.

Offline Brandon

Re: Free Will, Religion, Choice (Jude & Brandon)
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2010, 03:14:56 AM »
Then the conversation is over before it begins. If you cant keep to the agreements we've made thus far, I have no reason to believe you'll do so in the future. So this is meaningless

My only interest is in proving religion is not a choice and therefore is no different them race, gender, or sexual orientation and can not be judged on the same basis in the scheme of political correctness or Elliquiy rules. Now Im not one for political correctness in the first place because I believe it engenders resentment and distance between social groups but hate fueled religion bashing does the same thing even faster

Offline JudeTopic starter

Re: Free Will, Religion, Choice (Jude & Brandon)
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2010, 12:42:50 PM »
Saying I'd drop a subject in one context, then returning to it when the discussion opens up hardly seems like justification for ending an argument.  You don't have to trust me either; my arguments speak for themselves.  If they depend on my personal attributes, that's not true argument.

The existence of free will is central to your claims, if you were truly interested in finding the truth of this particular issue instead of simply defending your views I think you'd be willing to debate further.  I provided a piece of scientific evidence that free will exists that you ignored entirely.

Furthermore, it's wrong to characterize criticizing religion as hateful in all instances.  People can have benevolent reasons to do so (perhaps they desire to liberate people from a limiting philosophy which they are convinced is wrong).

Disagreements of all sorts engender distancing of social circles unless the parties involved are mature enough to accept that other people are entitled to their views without attempting to strongarm them into believing what they want them to believe via coercive methods.  I haven't observed such things from anti-theists, then again in the debate I've seen them partake in, they barely support their views.  They tend to walk into the conversation, drop something like "the world would be a better place without religion," then back out without defending their viewpoints at all.

Now, you may think me theocist as you put it, but I can show you numerous posts where I have defended various religions and disagreed with anti-theists (which even happened on the thread this discussion came from).  I simply think it's wrong to characterize unsettled points of debate in a negative light to silence dissent.

Offline JudeTopic starter

Re: Free Will, Religion, Choice (Jude & Brandon)
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2010, 12:43:57 PM »
That free will doesn't exist, I meant to say in the second paragraph in regards to the scientific evidence.