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
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.