The Mythology of Atheism

Posted on December 11, 2014 By

A classic Saturday Night Live sketch features comedian Steve Martin playing the role of a Medieval barber (barbers were the forerunners to modern doctors) providing a medical diagnosis of a sick girl to her mother:

“…Medicine is not an exact science, but we’re learning all the time. Why, just 50 years ago, we would have thought that your daughter’s illness was brought on by demonic possession or witchcraft [mother laughs]. But now days, we know that Isabel is suffering from an imbalance of bodily humors perhaps caused by a toad or small dwarf living in her stomach.”  

Atheism is sold as “scientific.”

Atheism is frequently promoted as a “scientific” belief system, but atheists would be well advised to abandon this line of propaganda in light of the fact that what constitutes science is in a constant state of flux. Biologist Lynn Margulis, winner of the U.S. Presidential Medal for Science, put it best in her book What Is Life?:

“…Science is asymptotic. [“asymptote” is derived from a Greek word meaning “not falling together.”] It never arrives at but only approaches the tantalizing goal of final knowledge. Astrology gives way to astronomy; alchemy evolves into chemistry. The science of one age becomes the mythology of the next.”

Those with a short-sighted view of the history of science are prone to overlook the fact that alchemy (which believed that metals such as lead could be turned into gold) and astrology were once considered scientifically respectable. In fact, as Margulis alludes to above, the scientific consensus of one age usually becomes the myth or superstition of the next age. Elite physicists Paul Davies and John Gribbin cite examples of this trend among scientific theories in their book The Matter Myth:

“A classic example concerns the ‘luminiferous ether.’ When James Clerk Maxwell showed that light is an electromagnetic wave, it seemed obvious that this wave had to have a medium of some sort through which to propagate. After all, other known waves travel through something. Sound waves, for example, travel through the air; water waves travel across the surface of lakes and oceans. Because light, which Maxwell discovered is a form of electromagnetic wave, can reach us from the Sun and stars, across seemingly empty space, it was proposed that space is actually filled with an intangible substance, the ether, in which these waves could travel.

So sure were physicists of the existence of the ether that ambitious experiments were mounted to measure the speed with which the Earth moves through it. Alas, the experiments showed conclusively that the ether does not exist.

…For nineteenth-century physicists, however, the ether was still very real.”

Those inclined to doubt that Darwinism will become the mythology of tomorrow are encouraged to read The Altenberg 16: An Exposé of the Evolution Industry. This book details the discussions of a secretive meeting (the public and media were barred) in Altenburg, Austria, in 2008, at which sixteen elite scientists met to discuss laying the foundation for “post-Darwinian research.”

Atheist mythology suggests that, as scientific knowledge grows, the need for theistic belief diminishes. However, in his pivotal work on the history, philosophy, and sociology of science titled The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn points out how the history of science makes it difficult to justify the characterization of science as “an ever growing stockpile [of] knowledge” (or a “process of accretion”). In part, this is because most scientific theories (or models) which were accepted by the scientific communities of the past are now perceived as pseudo-science or myth.

Kuhn cites the examples of Aristotelian dynamics (which was superseded by Newtonian physics), phlogistic chemistry (which said that a fire-like element called phlogiston is contained within combustible bodies and released during combustion), and caloric thermodynamics (which said that heat is really a self-repellent fluid called caloric that flows from hotter bodies to colder bodies). (Click here for many more examples). If these theories were regarded as “science” in their day, but as “error” and “superstition” today, then why should we not assume that the scientific theories of today will become the error and superstition of tomorrow? Kuhn writes:

“…Historians confront growing difficulties in distinguishing the ‘scientific’ component of past observation and belief from what their predecessors had readily labeled ‘error’ and ‘superstition.’ The more carefully they study, say, Aristotelian dynamics, phlogistic chemistry, or caloric thermodynamics, the more certain they feel that those once current views of nature were, as a whole, neither less scientific nor more the product of human idiosyncrasy than those current today. If these out-of-date beliefs are to be called myths, then myths can be produced by the same sorts of methods and held for the same sorts of reasons that now lead to scientific knowledge. If, on the other hand, they are to be called science, then science has included bodies of belief quite incompatible with the ones we hold today. Given these alternatives, the historian must choose the latter. Out-of-date theories are not in principle unscientific because they have been discarded. That choice, however, makes it difficult to see scientific development as a process of accretion.”

Scientific models shouldn’t be confused with reality.

Commonplace atheist thought would have one believe that science “discovered” the truth of such scientific theories as Darwinian evolution….much as one might discover a lost coin with a metal detector. But in reality, it is misleading to suggest that science is a simple exercise of making “discoveries” through mere observation. Physicists Davies and Gribbin explain how the line between scientific model and reality often becomes “hopelessly blurred” in The Matter Myth:

“At the heart of the scientific method is the construction of theories. Scientific theories are essentially models of the real world (or parts thereof), and a lot of the vocabulary of science concerns the models rather than reality. For example, scientists often use the word ‘discovery’ to refer to some purely theoretical advance. Thus one often hears it said that Stephen Hawking ‘discovered’ that black holes are not black, but emit heat radiation. That statement refers solely to a mathematical investigation. Nobody has yet seen a black hole, much less detected any heat radiation from one.

…So long as scientific models stick closely to direct experience, where common sense remains a reliable guide, we feel confident that we can distinguish between the model and the reality. But in certain branches of physics it is not always so easy. The concept of energy, for example, is a familiar one today, yet it was originally introduced as a purely theoretical quantity in order to simplify the physicists’ description of mechanical and thermodynamical processes. We cannot see or touch energy, yet we accept that it really exists because we are so used to discussing it.

The situation is even worse in the new physics, where the distinction between the model and reality sometimes becomes hopelessly blurred. In quantum field theory, for instance, theorists often refer to abstract entities called ‘virtual’ particles. These ephemeral objects come into existence out of nothing, and almost immediately fade away again. Although a faint trace of their fleeting passage can appear in ordinary matter, the virtual particles themselves can never be directly observed. So to what extent can they be said to really exist?”

Science is an unending discussion of mysteries. 

There can be no question that science has been very useful to modern society. Computers, space exploration, and air travel (not to mention nuclear weapons) are all the products of modern science. But as Princeton University quantum physicist Freeman Dyson, one of the most distinguished living scientists, notes in his March, 2011 essay How We Know, the usefulness of scientific theories should not be confused with their truth:

“Among my friends and acquaintances, everybody distrusts Wikipedia and everybody uses it. Distrust and productive use are not incompatible. Wikipedia is the ultimate open source repository of information. Everyone is free to read it and everyone is free to write it. It contains articles in 262 languages written by several million authors. The information that it contains is totally unreliable and surprisingly accurate. It is often unreliable because many of the authors are ignorant or careless. It is often accurate because the articles are edited and corrected by readers who are better informed than the authors.

The public has a distorted view of science, because children are taught in school that science is a collection of firmly established truths. In fact, science is not a collection of truths. It is a continuing exploration of mysteries….The origin of life is a total mystery, and so is the existence of human consciousness. We have no clear idea how the electrical discharges occurring in nerve cells in our brains are connected with our feelings and desires and actions.

…Science is the sum total of a great multitude of mysteries. It is an unending argument between a great multitude of voices. It resembles Wikipedia much more than it resembles the Encyclopaedia Britannica.”

Dyson’s above comments highlight one of the fundamental flaws of reasoning which absolutely permeates atheist thought: The belief that science can provide final, or ultimate, explanations which can substitute for theistic belief. This is a confusion of scientific reasoning with ontological reasoning. No less than Albert Einstein (as I cite him in Riddles for Atheists) dispelled the notion that science can produce ultimate explanations:

“You find it strange that I consider the comprehensibility of the world (to the extent that we are authorized to speak of such a comprehensibility) as a miracle or as an eternal mystery. Well, a priori, one should expect a chaotic world, which cannot be grasped by the mind in any way… the kind of order created by Newton’s theory of gravitation, for example, is wholly different. Even if man proposes the axioms of the theory, the success of such a project presupposes a high degree of ordering of the objective world, and this could not be expected a priori. That is the ‘miracle’ which is constantly reinforced as our knowledge expands.”

The fact that this miracle is constantly reinforced (rather than diminished) as our knowledge expands is likely one reason that Einstein commented:

“The more I study science, the more I believe in God.”

Indeed, discussions among elite scientists make it readily apparent that Darwinian evolution is the science of this age, but eventually to become the mythology of the next age (to paraphrase the above words of biologist Lynn Margulis). According to Margulis, in fact, history will ultimately judge neo-Darwinism as “a minor twentieth-century religious sect within the sprawling religious persuasion of Anglo-Saxon Biology.”

Darwinism will be the mythology of tomorrow.

Those inclined to doubt that Darwinism will become the mythology of tomorrow are encouraged to read The Altenberg 16: An Exposé of the Evolution Industry. This book details the discussions of a secretive meeting (the public and media were barred) in Altenburg, Austria, in 2008, at which sixteen elite scientists met to discuss laying the foundation for “post-Darwinian research.” Sam Smith, Editor of Progressive Review, accurately summarizes the reason for the secrecy of this meeting in his commentary which is featured on the back cover: “The scientific establishment has been somewhat scared of dealing rationally and openly with new evolutionary ideas because of its fear of the powerful creationist movement.”

In this book, Margulis discusses the persistence of neo-Darwinian theory, despite its deteriorating plausibility, with journalist Susan Mazur:

Margulis: “If enough favorable mutations occur, was the erroneous extrapolation, a change from one species to another would concurrently occur.”

Mazur: “So a certain dishonesty set in?”

Margulis: “No. It was not dishonesty. I think it was wish-fulfillment and social momentum. Assumptions, made but not verified, were taught as fact.”

Mazur: “But a whole industry grew up.”

Margulis: “Yes, but people are always more loyal to their tribal group than to any abstract notion of ‘truth’ – scientists especially. If not they are unemployable. It is professional suicide to continually contradict one’s teachers or social leaders.”


39 comments


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    John says:

    Scott really needed to be rescued here :)

    One thing I have witnessed time and time again is the corruption of ideas in the atheist mind.

    Contradictory beliefs abound and there simply is no way for them to Reconcile the jumbled mess of ideas.the worst kind of atheist is the one who is beginning to see that he is contradicting himself.

    These people are the ones who lash out and call us names. They use horrible bar room argumentation like — When children grow up the shed beliefs like the tooth fairy– These people are actually so beaten they are equating the all encompassing mystery of change under the pillow to the lil ole hum drum question of Why We Exist.

    We must understand what stage of confusion the Atheist is in. Many can no longer reason on the subject at all. Thankfully, unbeknownst to the atheists themselves. – the overwhelming majority of them abandon atheism because it contains so many self refuting ideas—FreeWill being one of the biggest. Once that falls, Atheism usually goes with it.


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 43 ) says:

      John,

      Subsequent to my debate with JLW, I found an excellent article by Albrecht Moritz that lays down the self defeating nature of naturalism. An excerpt of the first few paragraphs:

      Naturalism is the view that nothing exists beyond the natural world and that only physical laws operate in our world, i.e. that also humans are purely physical beings. Let us suppose the naturalist wants to defend the position that naturalism is true.

      Yet under naturalism every thought, just like everything else, is physically determined. Some propose that freedom of thought might be a result of ’emerging complexity’, but this is based on a misunderstanding of the concept. While emergence results in phenomena that could not be predicted from the basic components of the system on their own, it never violates the physical laws by which these basic components operate. Such a violation would have to occur if free thought could be the result of purely physical processes, which are either deterministic or, at the quantum level, random on a probabilistic basis (yet significant quantum level influence on thought is not feasible under naturalism, since it would just produce random thoughts).

      The physical determination of thought under naturalism of course includes the thought “Naturalism is true”. Therefore, when making the claim, the naturalist has no free choice but is at the mercy of the circuits in his/her brain to judge on the question.

      These circuits were shaped by evolution – yet evolution is of no help to reliably arrive at the claim that naturalism is true. Already Darwin recognized the problem that natural selection may not suffice to explain the human mind’s capacity for recognition of truth and objective thought – evolution selects only for physical adaptation and behavior, not for correctness of beliefs *). When evolutionary scientists claim that religion was selected for its behavioral survival advantage, they in fact concede, if they adhere to a naturalistic worldview, that evolution can indirectly select for an allegedly false belief. So there is no use in saying that, in terms of frameworks of beliefs, evolution probably has endowed us with a reliable ability to see that naturalism – an abstract concept far beyond everyday sensory experiences – is true, and therefore we ‘ought’ to see the truth of naturalism even under determinism.

      Certainly the naturalist might still claim that evolution has endowed the human brain with basic and universal logical circuitry, shaped by its survival value, that reliably can decide “if we just give the issues some thought”. However, even if evolution could accomplish the creation of reliable logical circuitry (which is debatable), an informed decision for or against naturalism is not solely a matter of simple and straightforward logic based on premises that should be self-evident to everyone, independent of the angle from which they are looked at. Rather, when the issues are thoroughly studied and well thought through, it is a matter of careful weighing of (giving weight to) and interpreting abstract and rather complex evidence and arguments pro and con, and this goes far beyond basic circuitry that might have been induced by evolution for its survival value. So there cannot be an evolutionary ‘ought’ on this issue after all.

      Thus, given all the above, it cannot rationally be claimed that evolution has shaped our brain circuits in such a way that they are bound to reliably settle the particular question at hand, “when engaged properly”. This, however, would be the only way to guarantee the right outcome under naturalistic determinism. (For theists there is no problem here; they usually view the brain as an integral part of the mind, on which the mind fully depends for its functioning, but they do not view it as identical to the mind – evolution then does not fulfill as ultimate a role in shaping the functioning of the mind as it does for the naturalist.)

      How then can the naturalist nonetheless assert that naturalism is true and its acceptance rational? S/he considered the evidence, s/he will reply. Yet under naturalism the brain determines how to interpret the evidence – you have no say in that. So the naturalist’s brain determined that naturalism is true, and mine determined, considering the evidence as well, that naturalism is not true. Now, which brain is right? If the naturalist’s acceptance of naturalism is solely dependent on the firing of his/her neurons over which s/he has no control (under determinism), then it is not possible for him/her to know that his/her brain is right and that naturalism is true. Thus under naturalism the claim that naturalism is true becomes incoherent and self-contradictory. Naturalism defeats itself.


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    jlw says:

    Free Will
    I’ll try to express this differently. When we change our minds based on evidence, it takes a certain amount of evidence to be persuasive. This is true under either worldview: all I propose is that we don’t control the threshold at which evidence becomes convincing.
    Your argument is incoherent. Are you saying we’re unable to listen, or take in new knowledge without free will? if you are, you clearly haven’t understood what I’ve said. Stop making up new arguments, respond to what I am actually saying rather than what you’d prefer I say. Our minds still work under free will. Acting as though they don’t, just because you’d rather we have it, is dishonest. Assertions such as ‘how could I pretend if I don’t have free will?’ betray a fundamental inability to comprehend what has been said.
    All I have stated is that we don’t control where I thoughts come from, or the means by which they develop. We’re (for a given value of ‘we’) still capable of thinking, of changing our minds, of doing everything we can with free will, save for controlling those choices. The slightest bit of thought, if you would actually put some in, renders most of what you’re saying meaningless.
    Two more things. First, you again refuse to respond to the argument I am making. Let us assume your worldview is true: then the reasoning I make should hold, as you’ve refused multiple times to actually reply to it which I can only assume means you cannot (if you could, why all the subject changing?), so free will does not exist under your worldview. Even if the consequences of this show logic is impossible, then logic is also impossible under your worldview. This is how ‘reductio ad absurdum’ works. If you have a problem with the argument, say something rather than constantly, pointlessly saying it’s false and then offering no justification except the barest falsehood.
    Secondly, as you have refused to acknowledge before, the question of whether or not logic is reliable is not related to free will at all: you know this, you have made the same argument irrespective of free will. You constantly assert it is, and have never once acknowledged this reply. The problem is, the question of whether or not logic is reliable is unanswerable, in the purest sense. It cannot be answered, except by appealing to logic, which you have thrown out the window by the argument. I could happily talk about how we’re still able to deduce and consider, how the system of logic we have developed works by observation, and all of that, but that requires logic which you’ll reject because you’d rather persist in making a meaningless argument.
    As for the brain in a vat, it is not a red herring, it is an example. Once you begin to question logic, you can’t respond, because you’ve made it impossible. How can you demonstrate your system of logic is true? You say it’s foisted on us by God: who is in turn a source beyond our control. An uncontrolled source. Now, please show that uncontrolled source can give us a meaningful definition of logic, without using the logic under question yourself, or admit that it is pointless to question whether or not logic is reliable.
    Hopefully this has dealt with your numerous tangents, can we get onto the argument itself, again? What are your problems with the premises? please state these, clearly, rather than shrug. If you have a problem with the definitions, scroll up: you’ve asked for clarification before, and have said nothing in response so I can only assume they were explained.

    Evil
    Forgive me for my impatience, but your unwillingness to respond to the arguments in any meaningful sense gets frustrating. If you cannot understand when a basic logical tool is being used, that’s itself a withdrawal from any attempt at rational discourse.
    Firstly, evil does not automatically happen when God is removed from the equation. It is possible to engage in charity etc without any belief in God. Your response is stated unclearly, but this alone hurts what seems to be a premise.
    Secondly, you’re still making the mistake of assuming the way things are must be the case, and trying to shoehorn in an explanation. Why are we able to find something enjoyable when it is made an ultimate desire at the exclusion of God?
    All I am saying, is that if evil was not desirable, less people would choose it: and plainly, evil is desirable. Whether this is because a handful of desires are inherently evil, or because some things can be turned away from God to be made an ultimate desire, each point holds.
    For the four premises, again:
    1. People are tempted by sin.
    2. God designed people.
    3. God does not want people to sin.
    4. If sin/evil was not tempting, less people would sin.
    Do you disagree with any of these?

    Motive
    My response is perfectly coherent if you would be willing to allow a worldview other than your own. This is required for rational discourse. What I mean should be clear from context.
    On free will: if it is an imperfect trait, God would not design it. if it is a perfect trait, why can it be used to lead to imperfection? Supposing that free will is a perfect trait is not an answer, it’s surrendering logic.
    It is as simple as that. Unless you can show perfection may lead to imperfection (impossible), the point holds.
    On a similar note, if God could choose to be imperfect, then God is imperfect in some possible world. With such a metaphysical concept, it follows a more perfect God would be one that is perfect in all possible worlds: that is, one that could never possibly choose to be imperfect.


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    jlw says:

    Free Will
    You’re the one who’s contradicting yourself. if influences control our choices, then why are you at this website trying to convince people that their choices are out of their control…when they cannot control the choice to believe this? How is logic not an influence?
    Strictly speaking, no, you don’t choose to change your mind. You’re still fully capable of doing so when presented with evidence. It simply relies on you possessing some form of intellectual honesty.
    Logic exists independently of free will. Truth exists independently of free will. You are reading far grander intentions into the statement ‘we do not control our choices’. This doesn’t even begin to touch the question of rational thought, and I fail to see why you think it would. That whole discussion is just as relevant even when the non-existence of free will is removed as a factor. You know this, I’ve seen you make that argument. It’s a long discussion, and not one worth having, especially not here. You clearly believe rationality and logic hold in your worldview: so again, I ask you why they imply free will does not exist. This is about a flaw in your worldview, not a perceived one in mine.
    You still need to show my logic does not hold. The best your current, honestly rather absurd, line of argumentation gets you to is some fact about me. The reasons still hold up. There is less shame in admitting you’re struggling to respond, than in such blatant evasion.

    Evil
    I thought it would be rather clear I’m treating each argument as a separate entity. If we’ve established free will doesn’t exist, why would I need to make this argument against God? Each of these are flaws with your worldview.
    If you would care to answer the question actually posed…

    Motive
    A creative nature cannot exist in perfection for what reason?
    Perhaps I phrased badly, but by meaning should have been clear. A creative nature such as you require cannot exist in a state of perfection. If you would be so kind as to read the rest of that comment:
    Perfection cannot bring about imperfection. Do you disagree with that statement, and if so, why? bringing in traits beyond perfection doesn’t answer it: they would have to be traits that exist in perfection for them to exist in God.
    If imperfection results from perfection, then it is possible to conceive a state of affairs with more perfection: that is, one where the produced imperfection did not exist. This should be impossible.

    That marks the third time you’ve outright ignored what I’ve actually said, in this comment alone.


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 43 ) says:

      SKL,

      You write, “Strictly speaking, no, you don’t choose to change your mind. You’re still fully capable of doing so when presented with evidence. It simply relies on you possessing some form of intellectual honesty.”

      The flaw is in YOUR worldview….and unmistakably so.

      In my years of debating atheists, I can’t recall a more jaw-dropingly contradictory argument. In the first sentence above, you suggest that we don’t have the ability to choose to change our minds. But in the sentence that immediately follows it, you say that we are “fully capable of doing so when presented with evidence.”

      Why can’t you see the open-and-shut contradiction here? Why can’t this penetrate your perceptual filter?

      You write, “Logic exists independently of free will. Truth exists independently of free will. You are reading far grander intentions into the statement ‘we do not control our choices’. This doesn’t even begin to touch the question of rational thought, and I fail to see why you think it would…..You clearly believe rationality and logic hold in your worldview: so again, I ask you why they imply free will does not exist. This is about a flaw in your worldview, not a perceived one in mine.”

      I am assuming that you meant to say, “I ask you why they imply free will DOES exist?” No? If not, then you have really really lost me. I will assume that this is what you meant to ask and respond below:

      As the saying goes in philosophy, “ought” implies “can”. That is, if one ought to believe in or do something, this implies that one has a choice in the matter, it implies that we are free. You think that we ought to believe that we cannot control our choices, so this implies that we can choose to believe this. This, again, is that performative contradiction that you keep repeating. You are trying to convince us to “control the choice” to believe something that you suggest we have no ability to “control the choice” to believe.

      By the way, you have tried to wriggle free of the contradictory nature of your argument by engaging in a semantic shift. You changed “choose” to “control the choice,” as if a choice that we did not control was really our choice.

      WHY SHOULD WE TRUST THE REASONING THAT LED YOU TO YOUR VIEWS IF EVERYONE’S MINDS ARE “OVERTAKEN BY UNCONSCIOUSLY DEVELOPED IDEAS, EXTERNAL DEVICES, PHYSICAL NEEDS, (ETC.)”?! LOGIC AND REASON CANNOT EXIST WITH SUCH A STATE OF AFFAIRS.

      WHAT BASIS DO WE HAVE FOR TRUSTING OUR REASONING ABILITY IF OUR MINDS ARE, TO USE YOUR WORDS, “OVERTAKEN BY UNCONSCIOUSLY DEVELOPED IDEAS, EXTERNAL DEVICES, PHYSICAL NEEDS” (etc.)??? This is what I mean when I say that your beliefs are self-defeating.

      HOW CAN WE DETERMINE WHICH “UNCONSCIOUSLY DEVELOPED IDEAS, EXTERNAL DEVICES, [AND] PHYSICAL NEEDS” LEAD TO TRUTH, AND WHICH LEAD TO FALSEHOOD?! ANSWER: ONLY BY ENGAGING IN LOGICAL REASONING THAT IS NOT GUIDED BY SUCH INFLUENCES!

      IF THERE IS OBJECTIVE TRUTH, THEN WE CAN ONLY ARRIVE AT IT BY OBJECTIVE REASONING, AND NOT BY A SET OF INFLUENCES THAT ARE BEYOND OUR CONTROL.

      You write, “You still need to show my logic does not hold. The best your current, honestly rather absurd, line of argumentation gets you to is some fact about me. The reasons still hold up. There is less shame in admitting you’re struggling to respond, than in such blatant evasion.”

      I AM STRUGGLING TO RESPOND TO YOUR SELF-DEFEATING, CONTRADICTORY ARGUMENTS?! REALLY?!

      I asked you to provide a citation from a psychologist to support your contention that the conscious mind cannot be the source of conscious thought. But you will not, because you cannot, because there are no such citations, because you are wrong. Period. Prove me wrong. Yes, that is a challenge.

      Further, you have failed to explain why your assertion that “the conscious mind cannot be the source of conscious thought” would be in any way relevant, even if it were true. Could you please explain this?

      Evil

      You are treating each question as a separate entity, but your various arguments contradict one another. The fact that your arguments cannot succeed unless they are isolated from one another further demonstrates the self-defeating nature of your logic.

      Motive

      Perfection cannot bring about imperfection? Who said that perfection brought about imperfection. We brought about imperfection by choosing to rebel from God. The imperfection of this world results from the exercise of free-will that God gave us. This is what is meant by the Biblical concept of “the fall.”


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        jlw says:

        Free Will
        I can see no contradiction because there is no contradiction. I’m not sure how you can pretend there is. Our minds are fully capable of changing based on new information: we just don’t choose that threshold. It is as simple as that. How many times must I respond to you before you acknowledge it?
        Truth exists whether or not we have free will. Whether or not we can trust our reasoning is a topic unrelated to whether or not free will exists. As I pointed out before, you know this. You have made this argument, in a post on this site. (‘Why atheism is self-defeating’). There’s no point in getting onto that discussion, because it’s not relevant. Suffice to say, it is not relevant to free will, stop pretending it is when you have to know that you’re lying.
        Let us suppose your worldview is true: that God exists, gave everyone logic which works. Why then, am I able to apply this logic to show free will does not exist, as I have done? If my reasoning holds, then your worldview cannot be true, regardless of what it says about mine.
        Repeatedly changing the subject, ignoring what I’ve said, then returning to a subject in the hope I’ve forgotten I’ve already answered it does nothing to refute what I’ve said.
        I see you have again ignored my justification for the statement conscious thoughts do not originate from the conscious mind. The reason I’m not supplying a citation is twofold. One, it is blindingly obvious if you would do me the courtesy of reading what has been said or even thinking about the topic yourself, and two, I have better things to do that read through psychology textbooks and get into a debate on sources when it is readily apparent the conscious mind (the set of all conscious thoughts) is not self-causing. Actually respond to my logic. Would you insist I provide a citation for 1+1=2?
        If the conscious mind is not the origin of conscious thought, then thoughts arise from an uncontrolled source. This clearly implies that what those thoughts cause must themselves be uncontrolled: especially when the fact the process of thought, how those thoughts change and develop, also came from an uncontrolled source (which I have also shown).
        This means actions are not under our control.
        I have explained this before. Would you like me to go through our discussion, and provide the quotes, to show that you have lied again?
        So, a simple question.
        Stop blustering, stop changing the subject, stop ignoring what I have said. Reply to the logic I have put forward. Actually respond, rather than insisting simple logic is somehow not good enough. Show that our thoughts are under our control (which cannot be done, as I’ve shown), show that the process of our thoughts is under our control (which cannot be done, as the process must exist before we can think to choose), or show that we can control our actions despite the fact the source of them all is uncontrolled (plainly impossible).
        Or concede the point. This is a direct question, do not evade.

        Evil
        I see you’ve again failed to respond to the argument, so you’ve resorted to changing the topic incoherently.
        My arguments say nothing about my worldview: they are all comments on yours. Your worldview has a God who made evil desirable, along with a requirement on free will. Neither of those points is true.
        This is all that has been said. The arguments don’t need to be consistent: they’re disproving, not proving. If you admitted free will does not exist, this argument would not hold: true. But if you admitted free will didn’t exist, why would I need to make the argument?
        Whereas, from my perspective, free will doesn’t exist: so the argument is one I only use when speaking to people, like you, who believe it does.
        Would you care to actually get back onto the relevant topic, or should I assume your evasion is your way of admitting you can’t reply?

        Motive
        So, when we were made, were we made perfect? yes or no?
        I’ve asked this before, you’ve ignored it. if we were made perfect, then perfection brought about imperfection: there’s the problem. if we were made imperfect, then God (perfect) brought about imperfection.
        As for the exercise of free will, two problems.
        One, if free will is not a perfect trait, then God would not grant it. If free will is a perfect trait, then what it gives rise to should not be imperfect.
        Two, does God have free will? Is God capable of choosing to be imperfect? If yes, God is not perfect: a more perfect being would be one for whom perfection is unattainable. If no, then there is a way free will and not choosing imperfection can be reconciled.


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          Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 43 ) says:

          Free will

          You write, “I can see no contradiction because there is no contradiction. I’m not sure how you can pretend there is. Our minds are fully capable of changing based on new information: we just don’t choose that threshold. It is as simple as that. How many times must I respond to you before you acknowledge it?”

          No, there is an enormous contradiction. Either we change our minds or something else (“uncontrolled sources”?) changes our minds. You can’t have it both ways.

          Please note the crucial difference between, “Our minds change,” on one hand, and, “We change our minds,” on the other hand. The statement, “Our minds change” does not refer to us changing our minds with our free will. However, “We change our minds” does.

          Either we change our minds with our free will, or we don’t. What difference does it make if “we don’t choose [the] threshold”? How would the existence of a “threshold” change the fact that we either have free will or we don’t? Your argument is thoroughly incoherent.

          In your previous comment, you wrote: “Strictly speaking, no, you don’t choose to change your mind. You’re still fully capable of doing so when presented with evidence.” How could the contradiction between these two sentences be any more stark?!

          I don’t want to get too rhetorical, but what planet are you living on if you can’t see the contradiction between these two above sentences?! In the first above sentence, you say that we can’t choose to change our minds, but in the second above sentence, you say that CAN choose to do so. Your argument is thoroughly incoherent.

          You write, “Truth exists whether or not we have free will. Whether or not we can trust our reasoning is a topic unrelated to whether or not free will exists. As I pointed out before, you know this. You have made this argument, in a post on this site. (‘Why atheism is self-defeating’). There’s no point in getting onto that discussion, because it’s not relevant. Suffice to say, it is not relevant to free will, stop pretending it is when you have to know that you’re lying.”

          Whether or not we can trust our reasoning is not only relevant, it is of crucial importance. This is because questions such as whether or not we have free will can only be approached through our reasoning. For example, if we cannot trust our reasoning, why should we trust the reasoning behind your belief that we do not have free will? How can we determine whether or not we have free will, when we rely on our reasoning to make this determination (and all other such determinations)?

          The problem with your argument is that we very clearly cannot trust our reasoning if your beliefs are true. In your words, our minds are “overtaken by unconsciously developed ideas, external devices, [and] physical needs“ (etc.). According to your logic, your mind must have been overtaken by such “uncontrolled sources” when you came up with your reasoning about free will. So why should we trust your reasoning about free will?

          Next, you write, “Let us suppose your worldview is true: that God exists, gave everyone logic which works. Why then, am I able to apply this logic to show free will does not exist, as I have done? If my reasoning holds, then your worldview cannot be true, regardless of what it says about mine.

          But your reasoning does not hold. If your reasoning is true, then your mind is, in your own words, “overtaken by unconsciously developed ideas, external devices, [and] physical needs,” etc. How can we trust reasoning which is overtaken in such a way? Why should we trust your logic (or anyone else’s logic, for that matter) if our minds are “overtaken” in such a way?

          Again, your logic is thoroughly self-defeating.

          You believe that free will doesn’t exist. Therefore, you believe that you did not freely choose to believe that free will does not exist. You have to believe it. And, by your logic, I did not choose to believe that free will does exist. I have to believe it. Our beliefs were guided by different sets of “uncontrolled sources.”

          But how can we determine which “uncontrolled sources” lead us to truth, and which lead us to falsehood? According to your logic, we can’t, because in order to make such a determination, we would need to utilize our reasoning ability. But (again, according to your logic) our reasoning is guided by uncontrolled sources, and not by ourselves, so we have no ability to utilize our reasoning ability. Your logic is self-defeating in the purest sense of the term.

          And, again, why are you at this website trying to convince people to freely choose to believe that there is no way to freely choose what we believe (no free will)? This is the same performative contradiction.

          Next, you write, “I see you have again ignored my justification for the statement conscious thoughts do not originate from the conscious mind. The reason I’m not supplying a citation is twofold. One, it is blindingly obvious if you would do me the courtesy of reading what has been said or even thinking about the topic yourself, and two, I have better things to do that read through psychology textbooks and get into a debate on sources when it is readily apparent the conscious mind (the set of all conscious thoughts) is not self-causing. Actually respond to my logic. Would you insist I provide a citation for 1+1=2?”

          No, I don’t think you should pour through textbooks in an age of internet search engines. Use Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc… You will not be able to find a citation from a licensed psychologist who says that “the conscious mind is not the source of conscious thought.” But, even if you did, what would this establish?

          Right, the conscious mind is not self-causing. The conscious mind (to the extent that it exists, since the term refers to a scientific concept which is subject to future revision) is caused by God.

          Next, you write, “If the conscious mind is not the origin of conscious thought, then thoughts arise from an uncontrolled source. This clearly implies that what those thoughts cause must themselves be uncontrolled: especially when the fact the process of thought, how those thoughts change and develop, also came from an uncontrolled source (which I have also shown). This means actions are not under our control.”

          I’m not sure how you get from, “If the conscious mind is not the origin of thought,” to “then thoughts arise from an uncontrolled source.” This is a non-sequitur.

          Secondly, you need to actually provide logical support for your premise that “the conscious mind is not the origin of thought.” Is your only reasoning behind this the fact that the conscious mind is not self-causing? If God caused the conscious mind to have logic and free will, then the conscious mind has logic and free will.

          But, once again, your logic is self-defeating. Apparently, your logic was not under your control, but rather, was under the control of “uncontrolled sources.” Why should we trust logic that came from “uncontrolled sources”? What basis do we have for trusting logic that is, to use your own words, “overtaken” by such “uncontrolled sources” as “unconsciously developed ideas, external devices, [and] physical needs” (etc)?

          How can we determine which “uncontrolled sources” lead to truth and which lead to falsehood? According to your logic, we can’t because we don’t have any control over our reasoning ability….the uncontrolled sources do.

          You keep shooting yourself in the foot with your reasoning.

          Lastly, you write, “Stop blustering, stop changing the subject, stop ignoring what I have said. Reply to the logic I have put forward. Actually respond, rather than insisting simple logic is somehow not good enough. Show that our thoughts are under our control (which cannot be done, as I’ve shown), show that the process of our thoughts is under our control (which cannot be done, as the process must exist before we can think to choose), or show that we can control our actions despite the fact the source of them all is uncontrolled (plainly impossible).
          Or concede the point. This is a direct question, do not evade.”

          I’m not insisting that simple logic is not good enough. Rather, I am insisting that there is no way to trust your logic (or anyone else’s logic, for that matter), if your beliefs are true. If your thoughts are not under your control, and the process of your thoughts is not under your control, then why should we trust your thoughts about anything….such as your thoughts about how we cannot control our thoughts? What basis do we have for trusting logic that is guided by such “uncontrolled sources” as “unconsciously developed ideas, external devices, [and] physical needs”? Why should we think, for example, that a physical need can lead us to truth?

          You completely undermine the basis for logical reasoning with your logic, and therefore, your beliefs are self-defeating.

          As you mentioned, I discuss this topic in my essay titled, “Why Atheism is Self-Defeating.” Logic is grounded in reason. But in what is reason grounded?

          In his book Illogical Atheism, Bo Jinn incisively lays down the failure of atheism to provide a grounding for reason:

          “…As we speak, there are atheists the world over insisting that atheism is a conclusion which intelligent people come to on the basis of reason. But, if atheism is true, then human reasoning has no validity at all, because valid reasoning implies a standard of truth that can be reasoned toward and a sufficient reason for believing that human reasoning works in the first place.”

          “…Theism reasons to and from an objective standard of ultimate truth grounded in an absolute mind (God) which gives validity to rational beliefs, and atheism reasons to and from a completely subjective standard that cannot give validity to any belief (ourselves). We cannot reason to the conclusion that our reasoning is valid, since it is as circular as the proposition B → B”

          So what is your objective standard of truth that can be reasoned toward? An “uncontrolled source”?

          “Unconsciously developed ideas, external devices, [and] physical needs”??

          If we accept the premise that our reasoning is grounded in “uncontrolled sources” such as “unconsciously developed ideas, external devices, [and] physical needs,” then our reasoning for accepting this very premise must have come from the same “uncontrolled sources.” What basis do we have for trusting such “uncontrolled sources”? Which uncontrolled sources lead us to truth, and which lead us to falsehood? How could we possibly make such a determination when our thoughts are under the control of uncontrolled sources? Your logic is self-defeating in the purest sense.

          By reasoning to and from a completely subjective standard of truth, you have undermined reason itself.

          Evil

          If there is no basis for trusting our logic, why should we trust your logic about evil?

          Your logic about evil has not been clearly articulated (muddled), and this string has gotten long. Would you please clearly restate your logic about evil so that I can respond to it?

          Are there any third party readers out there who understand JLW’s logic about evil? Could you summarize it for me?

          In your comment to DJA, you cite “the contradiction that a God who does not desire evil would not create a race who found it desirable.” I will respond to this since this I am not totally sure what you are arguing:

          Once again, God created us to have free will. Free will implies choices.

          Evil is the absence of God’s love, much as darkness is the absence of light. We can choose God’s love, or we can not choose God’s love. Choosing evil just means that we have not chosen God…and, by extension, his love.

          Your premise that God created evil to be desirable is false. God created us to have the free will to either choose him, or to NOT choose him. Evil is what results by NOT choosing him. This is acting on free will, not acting upon a desire.

          Evil is not really desirable. Evil results when we take a good desire that God created and pervert it into an ultimate desire…a false god. Our evil desires are merely good desires that God created, but which we have perverted with our free will choice to reject God. There is nothing wrong, for example, with pursuing financial prosperity. But when we make the good desire of pursuing financial prosperity an ultimate desire (in place of God), it perverts into the evil desire of satisfying greed.

          When we make any desire other than our desire for God an ultimate desire, it perverts into an evil desire.

          Timothy Keller discusses how evil desires are not really desirable in his book Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters:

          “In the 1830s, when Alexis de Tocqueville recorded his famous observations on America, he noted a ‘strange melancholy that haunts the inhabitants . . . in the midst of abundance.’ Americans believed that prosperity could quench their yearning for happiness, but such a hope was illusory, because, de Tocqueville added, ‘the incomplete joys of this world will never satisfy [the human] heart.’ This strange melancholy manifests itself in many ways, but always leads to the same despair of not finding what is sought.”

          “What is the cause of this ‘strange melancholy’ that permeates our society even during boom times of frenetic activity, and which turns to outright despair when prosperity diminishes? De Tocqueville says it comes from taking some ‘incomplete joy of this world’ and building your entire life on it. That is the definition of idolatry.”

          C.S. Lewis comments on how our earthly desires were only meant to arouse desire for God:

          “The Christian says, ‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.”

          Again, evil is not itself desirable. Rather, evil is merely what results when we take a good desire and make it an ultimate desire (thereby rejecting God). Take the desire for feeling good, for example. There is nothing evil about wanting to feel good. But when we make the desire to feel good an ultimate desire (thereby rejecting God), we wind up doing evil things like using illegal drugs. What is desirable, for example, about getting one’s satisfaction from illegal drugs, rather than from healthy sources such as love relationships, etc..?

          Motive

          You write, “If we were made perfect, then perfection brought about imperfection: there’s the problem. if we were made imperfect, then God (perfect) brought about imperfection.”

          We were not made imperfect. We exercised our free will to rebel from God, and this made us imperfect. Separated from the source of perfection (God), we become imperfect.

          You write, “One, if free will is not a perfect trait, then God would not grant it. If free will is a perfect trait, then what it gives rise to should not be imperfect.”

          Again, free will only results in imperfection because we have made the free will choice to reject God.

          Lastly, you write, “Two, does God have free will? Is God capable of choosing to be imperfect? If yes, God is not perfect: a more perfect being would be one for whom perfection is unattainable. If no, then there is a way free will and not choosing imperfection can be reconciled.”

          Can you provide some logical support for your stance that “a more perfect being would be one for whom perfection is unattainable.” This is an non-sequitur.

          What “uncontrolled source” did this logic come from? A physical desire? Lol.


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            jlw says:

            Free Will
            As I have said before, “Strictly speaking, no, you don’t choose to change your mind. You’re still fully capable of doing so when presented with evidence.” This isn’t remotely a contradiction. You’re saying it because because you’re assuming you must be right and I must be wrong. Read what is actually being said. Our minds are fully capable of changing; our minds function as they always do, as they do under your worldview, with only the caveat that we don’t control our thoughts. Thoughts still occur, they still take in new knowledge, and still change.
            There is no contradiction. Stop pretending.
            For yet another fact you have ignored, whether or not we can trust our reasoning is irrelevant to free will, for the very fact you’ve made that argument on this very site with no mention of free will. It’s also pointless. Can you prove you’re not a brain in a vat being poked and prodded to experience certain things, with a false system of logic forced upon you? No, the instant you ask whether or not you can trust logic, you’ve made discussion impossible. Irrespective of free will, your question is unanswerable and irrelevant. If you disagree, prove you are not a brain in a vat, without using logic that would necessarily be unreliable. You’re trying out presuppositional apologetics, and the problem for that is in the name. Presupposition is not an argument.
            How many times do I need to repeat myself for you to stop making the same blatantly false points?
            For a brief change of topic, there is the matter of how logic works. Proof by contradiction, or reductio ad absurdum, means you assume someone else’s worldview holds: you then show this leads to a contradiction, or an absurdity. This is all I am doing. I am taking on your worldview, and showing that it leads to requiring something impossible. For this reason, all that is relevant is whether or not the reasoning holds: not the consequences if it does hold. My worldview is more than palatable, you’re just trying to piece it together for a few seconds of hasty, disagreement-fuelled cheap shots, none of which could begin to result in a good argument. Even if the end result is that logic is unreliable (a pointless argument given its universality), you need to show the reasoning leading up to it is false: unless you believe reasoning to be unreliable in your worldview?
            So, onto that reasoning. The conscious mind is simply the term I use to refer to all conscious thought: plainly, nothing outside of our conscious awareness is something we control, so this is, by definition, the set of all things we control. And if we are not in control of these, as it necessarily comes from uncontrolled sources, we don’t control anything. You have never, ever responded to this: you’ve said it’s not true, but you’ve said absolutely nothing in defense of your statement. Perhaps because it plainly follows? If we are not in control of our thoughts, what else do you suppose we control? Answer this. If you cannot, then the fact we do not control our thoughts means we do not control anything.
            Do you seriously imagine ‘God designed us to have free will, so we do,” is a remotely meaningful inclusion in this discussion? Given whether or not we have free will is the trait under question, it’s clearly irrelevant, unless your belief is logic does not work: in which case, what’s the point of this site?
            Again, Stop changing the subject. Respond to my argument.

            Evil
            I ask you to look up proof by contradiction, or reductio as absurdum, again. Your unfamiliarity with the most basic of logical tools is rather worrying.
            If my logic does not make sense, say so, don’t just change the subject. All your statements only make sense if God gave us the capacity to find that which is sinful, pleasing or desirable. I gave several examples in my first post. Just because turning things to ‘ultimate desires’ makes them sinful, doesn’t explain why it would be desirable to do so, or why they would be desirable alone. You’re saying the way things are. You’re not saying why they are that way, when it’s clear they shouldn’t be, if your God exists.
            Take your drug example. Why would God invent them? Why would God create the human body in a way that it could take pleasure from such sources? That’s absurd.

            Motive
            Yet again you demonstrate your ability to fail understand such basic logical principles as reductio ad absurdum.
            Regardless, again, is free will a perfect or imperfect trait? If perfect, how could it possibly lead to imperfection? If imperfect, why would God include it? Saying we used to lead to imperfection is a statement of fact, it is not a justification for why it would then be created. Answer the question instead of making up another.
            If perfection leads to imperfection, then a more perfect state could be conceived of: one for which imperfection was unattainable. i apologize for the typo in my previous post, but the justification should be plain. There would be no imperfection: and so, it would be more perfect. This is true both for God, and for free will.
            Can God choose to be imperfect? If he can, then he is not perfect: a more perfect God would be one for which imperfection is entirely separate and different. If God cannot, then this is a demonstration: free will can exist without imperfection being possible.
            Or, if you believe God does not have free will, then free will is not a perfect trait.
            All this is trivial.


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              Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 43 ) says:

              You write, “As I have said before, ‘Strictly speaking, no, you don’t choose to change your mind. You’re still fully capable of doing so when presented with evidence.’ This isn’t remotely a contradiction. You’re saying it because because you’re assuming you must be right and I must be wrong. Read what is actually being said. Our minds are fully capable of changing; our minds function as they always do, as they do under your worldview, with only the caveat that we don’t control our thoughts. Thoughts still occur, they still take in new knowledge, and still change.”

              You don’t think this is a contradiction?! Do WE freely change our minds, or do “uncontrolled sources” change our minds? WHICH IS IT?! YOU CAN’T HAVE BOTH!!

              If WE freely change our minds when presented with evidence (which is what is you are suggesting when you write, “You’re fully capable of doing so when presented with evidence”), then we have free will.

              But if “uncontrolled sources” change our minds (which is what your statement, “Strictly speaking, no, you don’t choose to change your mind” suggests), then we DO NOT freely change our minds. If we cannot control our thoughts, as you insist, then how can we be “fully capable of [changing our minds] when presented with evidence”?!?! This is very, very strange.

              Again, I am not sure how any two statements could more blatantly contradict each other than your two following statements: “Strictly speaking, no, you don’t choose to change your mind. You’re still fully capable of doing so when presented with evidence.”

              These statements are every bit as contradictory as if someone said, “Strictly speaking, no, you don’t choose what job you take. You’re still fully capable of doing so when presented with various job offers.”

              I really do prefer to not use strong language when I can avoid it, but WHAT PLANET ARE YOU FROM?!

              You cannot assert your way out of the conundrum you have caught yourself in with bald assertions such as: “There is no contradiction. Stop pretending.”

              How could I pretend that there is a contradiction if I cannot control my thoughts?! Pretending assumes that one is in control of one’s thoughts. Are the “uncontrolled sources” causing me to pretend?! Why would they want me to do this?

              WHETHER OR NOT WE CAN TRUST OUR REASONING IS CRUCIAL TO THE QUESTION OF FREE WILL, BECAUSE DETERMINING IF WE HAVE FREE WILL REQUIRES US TO FREELY USE OUR REASONING!! HOW CAN WE USE OUR REASONING TO MAKE SUCH A DETERMINATION IF, AS YOU INSIST, WE CANNOT CONTROL OUR THOUGHTS?!

              Again, how can we trust the information given to us by such “uncontrolled sources” as “unconsciously developed ideas, external devices, [and] physical needs”??? How can we determine which “uncontrolled sources” lead us to truth, and which lead us to falsehood? By relying on the “uncontrolled sources” which control our thoughts to make the determination for us?!

              Your logic, again, is thoroughly incoherent. Only by a free will exercise of our reasoning can we determine whether or not we have free will.

              You ask if I can prove that I’m not “a brain in a vat being poked and prodded to experience certain things, with a false system of logic forced upon [me]”. No, but what does this have to do with anything? This is a “red-herring,” or an argument intended to divert attention away from the important issues at hand…so that you can divert attention away from the inability of your stance to withstand debate.

              You write, “The instant you ask whether or not you can trust logic, you’ve made discussion impossible. Irrespective of free will, your question is unanswerable and irrelevant.”

              No sir, you have it wrong. The instant it becomes apparent that your belief system does not allow for us to trust our logic is the same instant that your belief system is revealed to be incoherent. This question is only unanswerable from within the logical framework or your belief system.

              You write, “Proof by contradiction, or reductio ad absurdum, means you assume someone else’s worldview holds: you then show this leads to a contradiction, or an absurdity. This is all I am doing.”

              No sir, this is all that I am doing. If we assume that your worldview holds, then we are left with the absurdity that we cannot trust our reasoning. You believe that we cannot control our thoughts because “uncontrolled sources” control them. But how can we trust “uncontrolled sources” such as “unconsciously developed ideas, external devices, [and] physical needs” to lead us to truth? How could we determine which of these “uncontrolled sources” lead us to truth, and which lead us to falsehood? If your worldview is correct, then we cannot make such a determination, because we cannot control our thoughts…in order to make such a determination.

              Do you think that we can rely on “uncontrolled sources” to lead us to understand which “uncontrolled sources” lead us to truth, and which lead to falsehood?

              Next, you write: “My worldview is more than palatable, you’re just trying to piece it together for a few seconds of hasty, disagreement-fuelled cheap shots, none of which could begin to result in a good argument. Even if the end result is that logic is unreliable (a pointless argument given its universality), you need to show the reasoning leading up to it is false: unless you believe reasoning to be unreliable in your worldview?”

              No, my argument is not that our logic is unreliable. Rather, my argument is that our logic is unreliable if one assumes that your worldview is correct. A copy and paste from one of my previous comments:

              In his book Illogical Atheism, Bo Jinn incisively lays down the failure of atheism to provide a grounding for reason:

              “…As we speak, there are atheists the world over insisting that atheism is a conclusion which intelligent people come to on the basis of reason. But, if atheism is true, then human reasoning has no validity at all, because valid reasoning implies a standard of truth that can be reasoned toward and a sufficient reason for believing that human reasoning works in the first place.”

              “…Theism reasons to and from an objective standard of ultimate truth grounded in an absolute mind (God) which gives validity to rational beliefs, and atheism reasons to and from a completely subjective standard that cannot give validity to any belief (ourselves). We cannot reason to the conclusion that our reasoning is valid, since it is as circular as the proposition B → B”

              So what is your objective standard of truth that can be reasoned toward? An “uncontrolled source”?

              “Unconsciously developed ideas, external devices, [and] physical needs”??

              If we accept the premise that our reasoning is grounded in “uncontrolled sources” such as “unconsciously developed ideas, external devices, [and] physical needs,” then our reasoning for accepting this very premise must have come from the same “uncontrolled sources.” What basis do we have for trusting such “uncontrolled sources”? Which uncontrolled sources lead us to truth, and which lead us to falsehood? How could we possibly make such a determination when our thoughts are under the control of the very same uncontrolled sources? Your logic is self-defeating in the purest sense…reductio ad absurdum.

              Next, you write: “The conscious mind is simply the term I use to refer to all conscious thought: plainly, nothing outside of our conscious awareness is something we control, so this is, by definition, the set of all things we control. And if we are not in control of these, as it necessarily comes from uncontrolled sources, we don’t control anything. You have never, ever responded to this: you’ve said it’s not true, but you’ve said absolutely nothing in defense of your statement. Perhaps because it plainly follows? If we are not in control of our thoughts, what else do you suppose we control? Answer this. If you cannot, then the fact we do not control our thoughts means we do not control anything.”

              If “we do not control anything,” as you insist, then we do not control our logical reasoning. And if our logical reasoning is out of our control, then how can we trust it? What reason do we have for trusting the “uncontrolled sources” that control our logic?

              If we are not in control of our thoughts, then two different sets of “uncontrolled sources” are having this online debate. What do you suppose motivated these two different sets of “uncontrolled sources” to have an online debate? From reading the debate, it appears that these two sets of “uncontrolled sources” have completely different worldviews.

              Such are the absurdities that result from your worldview…reductio ad absurdum.

              Further, your argument for why our conscious thoughts “necessarily come from uncontrolled sources” is thoroughly incoherent. Is there any third party reader out there who understands what JLW is talking about in the first two sentences above that I have copied and pasted?

              This is not “changing the subject,” JLW. By dismissing free will, you have dismissed our ability to determine if we have free will or not. Your worldview is self-defeating.

              Evil

              You write, “I ask you to look up proof by contradiction, or reductio as absurdum, again. Your unfamiliarity with the most basic of logical tools is rather worrying.” JLW, your insults amount to a withdrawal from rational discourse. Logical arguments are built upon logic, not insults.

              You write, “All your statements only make sense if God gave us the capacity to find that which is sinful, pleasing or desirable. I gave several examples in my first post. Just because turning things to ‘ultimate desires’ makes them sinful, doesn’t explain why it would be desirable to do so, or why they would be desirable alone.”

              Again, God gave us various good desires. Desirable things only become evil when we exercise our free will to make something other than intimacy with God into our ultimate desire. There is nothing evil, for example, with a healthy desire for feeling good. But when one makes feeling good an ultimate desire (instead of making God the ultimate desire), one winds up doing evil things like using illegal drugs.

              God did not make evil desirable. Evil is what results when we remove God from the equation, much as removing light produces darkness.

              Love is not love unless it is freely chosen. God gave us the ability to freely choose to pursue a relationship with him, or to reject him.

              Your reasoning assumes that our desires control us, and that God had to make rejecting him desirable in order for us to choose it. But this is another non-sequitur. God only had to give us the free will option to reject him, he did not need to make it “desirable.”

              You write, “Take your drug example. Why would God invent them? Why would God create the human body in a way that it could take pleasure from such sources? That’s absurd.”

              Since when did God invent illegal drugs? This is absurd. He gave us creative abilities, and the ability to use our creative abilities for evil, if we choose. This is what we have done by creating illegal drugs.

              Native Peruvians chew coca leaves to give themselves a boost of energy and a pleasant feeling. There is nothing evil about this. But, as a result of allowing feeling good to become an ultimate desire (in place of God), certain people decided to concentrate the chemicals in coca leaves to make cocaine. God did not create the human body to take pleasure from illegal drugs, as you suggest. Illegal drugs are the result of making the desire to feel good into an ultimate desire, thereby abusing the plants and chemicals which God has placed in our care.

              Motive

              You ask, “Is free will a perfect or imperfect trait? If imperfect, how could it lead to imperfection?”

              I am not sure if your first question above is even a coherent question. Imperfection results from rejecting God.

              You write, “Saying we used to lead to imperfection is a statement of fact, it is not a justification for why it would then be created.” JLW, this is not even properly constructed sentence. What on Earth does “Saying we used to lead to perfection is a statement of fact” mean?

              This is why I am having such a hard time responding to you. Often times, you are not even using correct sentence structure, and so I cannot understand your questions and arguments.

              You write, “If perfection leads to imperfection, then a more perfect state could be conceived of: one for which imperfection was unattainable.” And why is it exactly that perfection leads to imperfection? God is perfect. By rejecting God, we have isolated ourselves from the source of perfection. A more perfect state would be one where we never rebelled against God.

              You write, “a more perfect God would be one for which imperfection is entirely separate and different.” Yes, imperfection is entirely separate and different from God. Imperfection results from our free will choice to separate ourselves from the source of perfection…God.

              Lastly, you write: “Can God choose to be imperfect? If he can, then he is not perfect: a more perfect God would be one for which imperfection is entirely separate and different.”

              Why would having the ability to choose to be imperfect cause God to be imperfect? This is another non-sequitur.


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    jlw says:

    Free Will
    You clearly aren’t paying any attention. We make informed choices: based on information, based on our experiences, based on what we say: for example, what you say affects how I think, what I say affects how you think. We think, we consider, we develop. I have denied none of this, and yet you seem to suppose I have.
    My view is based simply on the fact we do not control our thoughts. This is not because our thoughts are static or unalterable, as you seem to think, it is because of the two following facts:
    1. The conscious, controlled mind cannot be where all such conscious, controlled thoughts originate.
    2. We could not have chosen the process by which our mind thinks: that is, the way our mind goes from one thought to the next.
    One of these alone damns free will. Both make it unquestionably false. Again, I ask you to respond to what I am actually saying, rather than stock arguments against points I am not making.
    I agree that humans have will, that we think, that we can change our minds. I do not agree that just because we think something, that we are in control of it. Again, my two points:
    1. The conscious, controlled mind cannot be where all such conscious, controlled thoughts originate.
    2. We could not have chosen the process by which our mind thinks: that is, the way our mind goes from one thought to the next.
    You have said nothing against the second, and your only criticism of the first is that you don’t understand it. It’s rather simple: is the conscious mind (the set of all conscious thoughts) self-causing? Plainly, no, especially under a theistic definition where all is created by God. As such, all conscious, controlled thoughts within it come from a source outside of our control.
    That’s the extreme case: and it’s plain even on a smaller scale, as we clearly do not consciously control every unconsciously developed thought, every distracting experience, every blank moment, every dream… all of which are vital links in the chain developing any thought.
    That’s my case, and as such there are only three possible ways for you to respond to this argument, and I ask you to actually respond to the argument this time, rather than responses to different arguments.
    You can:
    1. Show that our conscious thoughts do all come from the conscious mind.
    2. Show that we could somehow choose the process by which we think.
    3. Show that we have free will even if our thoughts are not under our control.
    Either show both 1 and 2, show 3, or concede. Please stop evading this question.

    Evil
    Rebelling against God for the purpose of rebelling against God is a random choice to rebel against God
    As you yourself have said, Are you trying to establish this as “fact” merely by making a forceful assertion?
    As I have asked before, why does making one thing not desirable mean everyone is unable to desire other things, or to engage in any form of rational thought?
    Don’t evade the question. Answer, or concede.

    Motive
    You say “Perhaps God creates because it is in his character to do so.” but the fact is it would not be. Asserting otherwise does nothing to make it so.
    God is perfect, and any trait or desire which necessitates creation: something external to God and perfection, especially the creation of this universe, contradicts that.
    The workings of God’s mind don’t matter. The contradiction is here.


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 43 ) says:

      Jlw,

      Now you have really lost me.

      Free-will says that we can make choices. Determinism says that we cannot.

      How can we not have free-will if, as you say, “We make informed choices”? Free will is the ability to make choices. You have contradicted yourself.

      Did you choose to be a determinist, or did you not? If we cannot choose our beliefs, then what is the point of trying to convince people to believe in determinism? If we can choose our beliefs, then how can determinism be true? Just answer the questions and don’t evade.

      I asked you to cite a psychologist to back up your claim that, “The conscious, controlled mind cannot be where all such conscious, controlled thoughts originate.” But you have ignored my request. Could you at least provide a logical argument to support this assertion?

      You write, “We could not have chosen the process by which our mind thinks.” I provided a citation from UCLA Research Professor of Psychiatry Jeffrey M. Schwartz which shows how his work with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) patients demonstrates that we CAN choose the process by which we think. Are you gonna respond to this or just ignore it an repeat you previous assertion?

      Here is that citation again:

      Schwartz writes in The Mind and the Brain:

      “It thus offered the hope of understanding how directed mental force acts when OCD patients, by regularly choosing a healthy behavior over a compulsion, alter the gating function of their caudate nucleus in a way that changes the neural circuitry underlying their disease. What did we know about OCD patients who were following the Four Steps? For one thing, a successful outcome requires that a patient make willful changes in the meaning or value he places on the distressing “error” signals that the brain generates. Only by Relabeling and Revaluing these signals can the patient change the way he processes and responds to them. Once he understands the real nature of these false brain messages, the patient can actively Refocus attention away from the obsessive thoughts. Both the PET scans and the clinical data suggest that the quality of the attentional state—that is, whether it is mindful or unmindful—influences the brain and affects how, and even whether, patients actively process or robotically experience sensory stimuli as well as emotions and thoughts.”

      Please note how Schwartz says that patients correct their OCD by making willful choices. Please further note how Schwartz says that patients can CHOOSE to either “actively process or robotically experience sensory stimuli as well as emotions and thoughts.”

      Once again, JLW, are you gonna respond or just keep repeating your assertions? You have committed the logical fallacy of Argument by Repeated Assertion.

      Further, why would it be necessary for us to “choose the process by which our mind thinks” for us to have free will? This is a non-sequitur and you need to explain the connection between “choosing the process by which our mind thinks” and free will.

      If God designed us to have free will, then we have free will.

      I’m evading the question?! Very strange. You are evading my counter-arguments.

      Evil

      You write, “Rebelling against God for the purpose of rebelling against God is a random choice to rebel against God
      As you yourself have said, Are you trying to establish this as “fact” merely by making a forceful assertion?”

      This is not an assertion. It is a logical observation. Doing something without a purpose or motivation is a random action. Is that a difficult concept for you? If doing something without a purpose or motivation is not random, then what is it? Please explain. Doing something for a purpose is a purposeful action….the opposite of a random action.

      Next, you write: “As I have asked before, why does making one thing not desirable mean everyone is unable to desire other things, or to engage in
      any form of rational thought?”

      This is not even a coherent question. Could you please rephrase? Is there a third-party person out there who understands JLW’s question?

      Motive

      You write, “God is perfect, and any trait or desire which necessitates creation: something external to God and perfection, especially the creation of this universe, contradicts that.”

      The flaw in your logic is that you assume that God needs to create….once again, as if you could fathom the mind of God. Do artists create because they NEED to in order to correct an imperfection? Your logic is strange.


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        jlw says:

        Free Will
        Don’t act like you’re an authority on a topic when you clearly have no worthwhile knowledge on it. There are, generally speaking, four positions to take on the matter of free will. You propose libertarianism, which states free will is true and determinism contradicts that. That is a form of incompatabilism: compatabilism being the idea that free will (whether or not it is true) may exist alongside determinism.
        For example, the past may only be viewed by a deterministic lens: yet you believe we had free will throughout it. On that count, at least, you are a compatibilist. If you believe God transcends time, or knows the future, then the point still stands: things can be fact from an external or future standpoint while being changeable in the present.
        I have not brought determinism into my argument for precisely this reason. Proving determinism does not disprove free will, disproving determinism does not prove free will. This is basic knowledge in the study of free will. (Libertarianism being the least respected of the four, and the compatibilist definition being different to what you require).
        That’s a very rushed crash course, feel free to look up more. All I am interested in is the requirement for the theistically required form of free will, that we control our choices. Whether or not multiple outcomes are possible, whether or not our will has an impact, none of that matters. Again, I ask you to respond to what I am actually saying. We can change our minds, we can make choices: that does not immediately imply we control those choices. How many times must I repeat myself for you to at least acknowledge what I am saying?
        You said: “I asked you to cite a psychologist to back up your claim that, “The conscious, controlled mind cannot be where all such conscious, controlled thoughts originate.” But you have ignored my request. Could you at least provide a logical argument to support this assertion?
        I’m not muddying the waters by bringing in psychologists because then we’d just get into a discussion of source work. It is equally a readily apparent fact if you would be willing to actually read what I say, and respond rather than ignoring me every time I bring up an explanation and then pretending I didn’t. I did provide an explanation, which you ignored:
        is the conscious mind (the set of all conscious thoughts) self-causing? Plainly, no, especially under a theistic definition where all is created by God. As such, all conscious, controlled thoughts within it come from a source outside of our control.
        As I’ve also put it, The conscious mind (that is: all consciousness, all we are in control of: immaterial or otherwise) cannot be the origin of conscious (that is, controlled) thought. The best case scenario is an infinite regress, if it were: more realistically, we need to acknowledge how our minds are overtaken by unconsciously developed ideas, external devices, physical needs…
        You also said: “You write, “We could not have chosen the process by which our mind thinks.” I provided a citation from UCLA Research Professor of Psychiatry Jeffrey M. Schwartz which shows how his work with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) patients demonstrates that we CAN choose the process by which we think. Are you gonna respond to this or just ignore it an repeat you previous assertion?
        This only works if you suppose free will exists. Your example relies on using will to choose the process: it can’t be used to establish that will is in our control. Will to change the process only works if will, before that point, is controlled: if it is uncontrolled, then it’s merely an example of uncontrolled will in action.
        The process by which we think is relevant, as it is the only way to salvage any form of control from the fact we don’t control the origin of thoughts. If we somehow controlled how that thought developed, we would have a kind of free will, albeit a kind limited by the uncontrolled start.
        Instead, we have an uncontrolled starting point, and an uncontrolled means of development, and there is simply no way to salvage any form of control from this.
        If God designed us to have free will, then we have free will.
        Absurd. What was the point in bringing this up? It sounds like you’re admitting there are no grounds to defend free will, you just refuse to admit it.
        You again: “I’m evading the question?! Very strange. You are evading my counter-arguments.
        The amount of times I’ve caught you out ignoring my replies makes this statement more amusing than serious. Jan 15th, 6:26 when I listed the three times I’ve responded to your assertion directly after you pretended I’d never responded to it, the time in the very comment I’m replying to when you ignored the logical basis I gave for how we do not control our will…

        Evil
        Doing something without a purpose or motivation is a random action.
        How on earth are you getting to this result from evil not being desirable?!
        why does making one thing not desirable mean everyone is unable to desire other things, or to engage in any form of rational thought?
        Piece by piece, then.
        ‘Making one thing not desirable’ should be clear. God, if real, would not have made evil desirable. This is all, and all I am proposing.
        Why does this imply that everyone will suddenly be unable to:
        a) desire something other than evil
        b) Be unable to simply think and consider and reason?

        Motive
        I don’t need to know the mind of God. You are the one bringing in such workings. I am concerned purely with the trait of perfection. I have stated this several times, you have ignored me and refused to acknowledge it.
        Let’s break this down. When God creates the universe, there are three possible states of affairs.
        1. The combination of God and the universe is more perfect than just God.
        2. The combination of God and the universe is equally perfect to just God.
        3. The combination of God and the universe is less perfect than just God.
        Examining these, 1 is plainly impossible, nothing could be more perfect. 2 we can reject from examination of the universe, which is clearly not perfect: once a single imperfection creeps in, it can’t remain equally perfect.
        We’re left with 3, then, and this too contradicts God’s trait of perfection. Whatever motivation God has does not matter: if he creates something to decrease net perfection then he can not be perfect.
        For the third time this message I must ask you to respond to what I am actually saying.


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          Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 43 ) says:

          Free will

          Your detailed breakdown of the four positions regarding free-will is nice, but it does not change the fact your arguments are self-refuting, as I will point out below.

          You write, “We can change our minds, we can make choices: that does not immediately imply we control those choices. How many times must I repeat myself for you to at least acknowledge what I am saying?”

          If we cannot control our choices, then I cannot control my choice to believe that I can control my choices, and you cannot control your choice to believe that you cannot control your choices. If your reasoning is true, then both of us MUST believe what we believe because external forces are controlling our beliefs. So what are you doing at this website trying to convince people to believe that they cannot control their choices, when your argument entails that they cannot control their choice of what to believe?

          How could we ever resolve this debate if neither you nor I can control our choice of what to believe? You are still committing the same performative contradiction.…which makes your arguments incoherent.

          If, as you put it, “Our minds are overtaken by unconsciously developed ideas, external devices, physical needs,” then apparently your mind was overtaken by such things when you thought up your argument. Why should anyone listen to the logic of someone who’s mind is “overtaken by unconsciously developed ideas, external devices, physical needs”, etc.?? Your arguments are thoroughly self-refuting.

          Evil

          You write, “God, if real, would not have made evil desirable.” You are just not getting this. If God wants us to choose him over something else, then that something else is either something we consider desirable, or else we have no reason for choosing it.

          What is so complicated about that? We have to choose between good and evil. Those are the two choices. If there are no perceived benefits to choosing evil, then there is really no choice to be made.

          I have no idea what you are talking about when you write:

          “Why does this imply that everyone will suddenly be unable to:

          a) desire something other than evil
          b) Be unable to simply think and consider and reason?”

          Is there a third-party person out there who can translate this?

          Motive

          You write, “If he [God] creates something to decrease net perfection then he can not be perfect. For the third time this message I must ask you to respond to what I am actually saying.”

          Do you mean to say, “If he [God] creates something to increase net perfection then he can not be perfect”? If this is not what you meant, then I have absolutely no idea what you mean by, “If he [God] creates something to decrease net perfection then he can not be perfect.”

          Again, your argument rests on the assumption that God creates to perfect something. But this is a non-sequitur. God could create for other reasons, such as self-expression, or because it is his nature. I asked you before, but you failed to respond: Do artists create in order to perfect something? Or are they just creating as an act of self-expression, and because they are expressing their creative nature by doing so?


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            jlt says:

            Free Will
            Your assertion that we can’t change our minds makes little sense. Our minds are perfectly capable of changing based on new information or new experiences which push it over the threshold to acceptance: we just have no control over what the threshold is. Just because we can’t control the choice doesn’t mean it can’t be made or influenced. For example, if you insist on external causes (unnecessary: internal causes are just as uncontrolled), I’m external to you.
            My arguments are far from self-refuting. The fact you can’t respond to the logic in them should be proof of that. And regardless, performative contradiction still doesn’t mean I’ve refuted myself even if it were true. I ask you again to respond to the argument or acknowledge you can’t.

            Evil
            “”If God wants us to choose him over something else, then that something else is either something we consider desirable, or else we have no reason for choosing it.
            Why?
            I mean, clearly the statement of and consequences of believing in God are more desirable than evil even now, there’s hardly a balance. I merely propose less people sin.
            And to the argument you’ve yet to respond to, which I’ll charitably assume is because I haven’t expressed it clearly, whether or not we find something desirable has no bearing on how we reason and engage in rational thought. People are fully capable of turning from God for reasons other than desire.
            You’ve yet to say how randomness enters into it. Do you concede that point?

            Motive
            Of what relevance is an artist? My contention is such creative natures would not exist in perfection. Assuming they can is not a valid response.
            Perfection cannot bring about imperfection. Do you disagree with that statement, and if so, why? bringing in traits beyond perfection doesn’t answer it: they would have to be traits that exist in perfection for them to exist in God.
            If imperfection results from perfection, then it is possible to conceive a state of affairs with more perfection: that is, one where the produced imperfection did not exist. This should be impossible.


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              Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 43 ) says:

              JLW,

              Free will

              I haven’t responded to your logic?! This is very strange. Do you want me to copy and paste my response from my previous post?

              Your arguments are contradictory and self-refuting. You write, “Your assertion that we can’t change our minds makes little sense.” But then, two sentences later, you write, “Just because we can’t control the choice doesn’t mean it can’t be made or influenced.”

              The first sentence of yours which I have copied and pasted above suggests that “we” can change our minds, but the second sentence suggests that “we can’t control the choice.”

              So which is it? You are losing me. Do WE control our choices, or do influences control our choices? If we control our choices, then how can you suggest that there is no free-will?

              Conversely, if influences control our choices, then why are you at this website trying to convince people that their choices are out of their control…when they cannot control the choice to believe this? ARE YOU TRYING TO CONVINCE PEOPLE TO CHOOSE TO BELIEVE THAT THEY CANNOT CONTROL THEIR CHOICES, OR ARE YOU NOT?!

              Further, how are we ever going to resolve this debate? According to your logic, you did not control your choice to believe that we cannot control our choices, and I did not control my choice to believe in free-will. There is no way to take an independent stance and consider the arguments in an unprejudiced fashion, because all opinions on this matter are controlled by influences, and not by objective reasoning.

              How could we possibly obtain an objective assessment of this issue when it is influences guiding our choices, rather than objective reasoning?

              I am going to use all caps because you must not ignore or attempt to evade the following questions:

              WHY SHOULD ANYONE LISTEN TO THE LOGIC OF SOMEONE WHO’S MIND IS, IN YOUR WORDS, “OVERTAKEN BY UNCONSCIOUSLY DEVELOPED IDEAS, EXTERNAL DEVICES, PHYSICAL NEEDS, (ETC.)”?

              HOW CAN WE OBTAIN TRUTH WHEN IT IS INFLUENCES (RAHTER THAN OBJECTIVE, LOGICAL REASONING) GUIDING OUR CHOICES OF WHAT TO BELIEVE?!

              HOW CAN “UNCONSCIOUSLY DEVELOPED IDEAS, EXTERNAL DEVICES, PHYSICAL NEEDS (etc.),” RATHER THAT LOGICAL REASONING, LEAD US TO TRUTH?

              If we cannot make logical choices, but rather, have our logical choices made for us by influences, then how can we know that your stance is true? How can we determine which set of “unconsciously developed ideas, external devices, and physical needs” (etc.) lead to truth…and which lead to falsehood? What makes you think that the influences which made you choose to believe what you believe is a set of influences that leads to truth? How did you make this assessment? By examining the evidence and then making a logical choice? How can this be if you do not control your choices?

              Your stance, again, is thoroughly self-refuting. You cannot escape from this by making a bald assertion such as “My arguments are far from self-refuting.” What influences controlled your choice to believe that your stance is not self-refuting? How can we determine that these influences lead to truth? By examining all of the facts and making a logical choice?

              Evil

              You write, “Whether or not we find something desirable has no bearing on how we reason and engage in rational thought. People are fully capable of turning from God for reasons other than desire.” But I thought that you said our choices are controlled by influences! Are you now saying that our choices are controlled by rational thought and reason…rather than by influences? I thought it was internal and external influences that control such choices, and not the individual himself! Which is it?

              Further, are you now suggesting that people can control their choice to turn away from God? According to your logic, influences controlled your choice to disbelieve in God, and a different set of influences controlled my choice to believe in God. How can logic occur when we do not have the free-will to control our choice among different logical alternatives? If influences control our logical choices, and not logic, how can we arrive at truth?

              You seem to be suggesting that people are capable of examining the consequences of believing in God vs. disbelieving in God, and then making a rational choice. You write, “Whether or not we find something desirable has no bearing on how we reason and engage in rational thought. People are fully capable of turning from God for reasons other than desire.” Then does this mean that people are capable of controlling their choice to turn away from God…for logical reasons? But I thought you said that we cannot control our choices because influences other than our free-will control these choices!

              Motive

              You write, “Of what relevance is an artist? My contention is such creative natures would not exist in perfection. Assuming they can is not a valid response.”

              A creative nature cannot exist in perfection for what reason? This is another complete non-sequitur. Don’t you think you should provide some sort of logical argument for why a creative nature cannot exist in a state of perfection? Merely assuming that a creative nature cannot exist in a state of perfection is not a valid response.

              Assuming that a creative nature CAN exist in a state of perfection is a perfectly valid response in the absence of a logical reason for believing otherwise.

              Further, by your reasoning, a set of influences (and not rational thought) controlled your belief that a creative nature cannot exist in a state of perfection. So why should we accept your reasoning when it was guided by ““unconsciously developed ideas, external devices, and physical needs,” rather than logical thought?


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    Grayson says:

    I have a problem with something:

    We were discussing this in Philosophy today:
    If God is all-knowing, free will doesn’t exist. If He knows everything about us, and every decision we make, then we didn’t freely make our decisions. It was set in stone from the beginning.

    Help?


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    jlw says:

    Free Will
    Even without free will, I still exist. Pronouns are a valid way of speaking. I possess certain traits: where do these traits come from, is the question. Both internal and external forces are behind a decision: but you cannot claim that internal forces are automatically in our control. The unconscious mind, for starters.
    or is it forces outside of yourself (which you refuse to define)
    This is nonsense. For one, I don’t need to define these as I’ve shown thoughts cannot be in our control (give me a sec to get to that), the onus is on you to do otherwise. For two, we’re influenced by many things. Past experiences, essential nature, yes thoughts… Listing all is ridiculous, and unnecessary. Only one class of things (namely, conscious thoughts) can realistically be said to be our control. If they are not, then they and their consequences are not, and nothing is.
    Why do we even bother having a criminal justice system if this we are not responsible for our moral choices?
    Quarantine. Answered. Morality exists independently of free will, but without getting into that debate, people are dangerous whether or not they have free will. I oppose the death penalty and retributive punishment, I don’t oppose imprisonment, because a) an incentive to do otherwise is a useful encouragement, and b) imprisonment is to protect everyone else, not punish.
    All this is irrelevant. You are focusing on consequences of the lack of free will. It’s more than palatable, but it’s a lengthy topic. What matters is whether or not it’s true.
    How many third-party viewers of this discussion do you really think you are going to convince by suggesting that we cannot choose our thoughts?!
    Anyone who’s read my first comment, which you have not responded to remotely. Our controlled, conscious thoughts are not in our control (the conscious mind can’t be the source of all our conscious thoughts, each needs to come from somewhere), and we were hardly in a place to decide the mechanisms by which we think, so those too are beyond our control. One of those alone would damn free will: both means we don’t control where I thoughts come from, or how they develop.
    Please respond to this rather than evade as you have before.
    Evil
    The desirability of the options impacts free will? No, it absolutely does not
    I’m glad we agree. Now will you please respond to my original question, to which your only answer was preserving free will.
    The conclusion of it: God wouldn’t design a race for which sin is desirable. Something can be possible without being tempting.
    Motive
    #2 suggests that we can know all of God’s motives.
    It does not: it only comes from God’s perfection. God is complete in of himself: what would God want to add? Nothing could be added without decreasing the net perfection of things, which would go against the definition of perfection.


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 43 ) says:

      Free will

      Jlw,

      It is quite peculiar that you say, “Our controlled, conscious thoughts are not in our control,” and yet you refuse to say who or what IS in control of our conscious thoughts. Determinism is the belief (which you endorse) which says our thoughts and actions are controlled (determined) by outside forces…natural laws. And determinism is a very comforting belief for atheists, because it provides a means of rationalizing away responsibility for one’s moral choices. The need to be free of externally imposed moral constraints, as I have said, is the primary motivator for atheism.

      Unfortunately for atheists, determinism has been shown to be impossible in light of the discoveries of modern physics.

      As Montreal Neurological Institute neuroscientist Mario Beauregard points out in his book The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul, determinism is impossible in light of the discoveries of modern physics:

      “There is a principle…called the Heisenberg Uncertainty (indeterminacy) principle. It says that subatomic particles do not occupy definite positions in space or time; we can find out where they are only as a series of probabilities about where they might be (we must decide what we want to know).”

      “This area of physics, quantum physics, is the study of the behavior of matter energy at the subatomic level of our universe. Briefly, the synapses, the spaces between neurons of the brain, conduct signals using parts of atoms called ions. The ions function according to the rules of quantum physics, not of classical physics.”

      “What difference does it make if quantum physics governs the brain? Well, one thing we can dispose of right away is determinism, the idea that everything in the universe has been or can be predetermined. The basic level of our universe is a cloud of probabilities, not of laws. In the human brain, this means that our brains are not driven to process a given decision; what we really experience is a ‘smear’ of possibilities. But how do we decide between them?”

      UCLA Professor or Research Psychiatry Jeffrey M. Schwartz echoes Beauregard’s above points about the impossibility of determinism in light of modern physics, in his book The Mind & The Brain:

      “Though you would hardly know it from the arguments of those who appeal to physics to assert that all mental phenomena can be reduced to the electrochemical activity of neurons, physics has progressed from its classical Newtonian form and found itself in the strange land of the quantum. Once, physics dealt only with tangible objects: planets, balls, molecules, and atoms. Today, in the form of quantum mechanics, it describes a very different world, one built out of what [University of California, Berkeley physicist Henry] Stapp calls ‘a new kind of stuff,’ with properties of both the physical and the mental.”

      “…What we now know about quantum physics gives us reason to believe that conscious thoughts and volitions can, and do, play a powerful causal role in the world, including influencing the activity of the brain. Mind and matter, in other words, can interact.”

      Further, Stapp’s research has shown that, since mental activity precedes brain function, the mind and the brain cannot be said to be one-in-the-same. Rather, immaterial consciousness (the mind or soul) causes brain states. Schwartz notes how this conclusion dovetails neatly with his own research:

      “In fact, Stapp’s work suggests that there is no fully defined brain state until attention is focused. That physical activity within the brain follows the focus of attention offers the clearest explanation to date of how my hypothesized mental force can alter brain activity. The choice made by a patient—or, indeed, anyone—causes one physical brain state to be activated rather than another. A century after the birth of quantum mechanics, it may at last be time to take seriously its most unsettling idea: that the observer and the way he directs his attention are intrinsic and unavoidable parts of reality.”

      THE COUNTER IS NOW ON THREE (3) FOR THE NUMBER OF TIMES I HAVE ASKED YOU TO EXPLAIN WHO OR WHAT FORCED YOU TO POST THE COMMENTS YOU HAVE MADE AT THIS WEBSITE. DO YOU NOT THINK IT IS PECULIAR THAT YOU SUGGEST YOU DID NOT CHOOSE TO POST THE COMMENTS YOU HAVE MADE AT THIS WEBSITE, AND YET, YOU WILL NOT SPECIFY WHAT FORCED YOU TO DO SO?!

      Evil

      Your original question? Sorry, this string has gotten long. What was your original question?

      God would design a race for which sin is desirable because God wants us to willfully choose to be in relationship with him. He does not want us to choose to be in a relationship with in a eenie-meenie-miney-moe, random fashion. Once again, you have failed to answer, so I will ask again:

      Would you or any other person want to marry someone who chose them in a random, eenie-meenie-miney-moe fashion? PLEASE PLEASE answer the question.

      Motive

      Ok, JLW, I guess we have to agree to disagree here: You think that we can know all of God’s motives, and I do not.

      You have failed to answer the question, so I will just keep asking it:

      Does a dog or cat know all of its owner’s motives?


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        jlw says:

        Free Will
        Are you capable of anything other than evasion? Nothing I have said bears any relation to what makes up the mind, or to whether or not actions can be predicted.
        The conscious mind is not the origin of conscious thought: fact. We did not decide the process by which our thoughts develop: fact. How then are subsequent thoughts remotely in our control?
        Would you please do me the courtesy of responding to what I’m actually saying rather than copy/pasting what people have to say about a different topic?
        If you’re bringing back the counter, THE COUNTER IS NOW ON FIVE (5) FOR THE NUMBER OF TIMES YOU HAVE REFUSED TO RESPOND TO HOW WE CONTROL OUR THOUGHTS.
        I have answered your meaningless question, regardless. Past memories and experiences, essential nature, thoughts and consideration. Of what relevance is this? Stating the origins of a thought, even if they come from within the mind, does not immediately show we control them.
        I ask you again to respond to what I am actually saying. The conscious mind cannot be the origin of conscious thought, and we were in no position to create the mechanism by which our minds work (and so we don’t control either our first thoughts, or how they develop). Now, once more, I ask you to show that our thoughts are in our control, or to concede the point.
        This is all I will say from now on, until you answer the question I have asked countless times.

        Evil
        I’m trying to work out why you insist I must be talking about a random fashion. How does randomness enter into this? Why do I need to answer that question when it has nothing to do with what we’re discussing?
        No, I wouldn’t. If we’re asking unrelated question, would you like to marry someone who enjoyed tap-dancing?
        If evil is not desirable, choice will still be possible: you have already acknowledged this. We will be free to choose between God, and between evil: the only change is that less people will choose evil, because they see that God is the better choice.
        How is making evil less tempting remotely the same as randomness?

        Motive
        What is your fascination with unrelated questions? No, a dog or cat doesn’t know its owners motive. I see I have to repeat myself again.
        motive is the title of the argument as it comes from the question of motive. The argument I have expressed several times does not need you to give me a motive, it simply needs you to answer.
        And the statement ‘God would not want to create anything’:
        it only comes from God’s perfection. God is complete in of himself: what would God want to add? Nothing could be added without decreasing the net perfection of things, which would go against the definition of perfection.
        This is a contradiction in the definition of God. You don’t need a motive, you need either to resolve the contradiction or concede the point.


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          Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 43 ) says:

          Free will

          Evasion, jlw?! My citations demonstrate that determinism (which is the belief that we do not control our thoughts or actions, and which you endorse) is impossible in light of the discoveries of modern physics.

          You are the one who is evading!! Either respond or admit that you cannot respond. The insights of modern physics regarding determinism GET RIGHT TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER WHICH YOU AND I HAVE BEEN DISCUSSING! You are the one who is evading.

          PLEASE PLEASE respond to my citations of the neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, the UCLA Professor of Research Psychiatry Jeffrey Schwartz, and the U.C. Berkley physicist Henry Stapp, regarding the impossibility of determinism (your belief that we do not choose our thoughts or actions) in light of the insights of modern physics! Do I need to start a counter here too?

          THE COUNTER IS NOW ON FOUR (4) FOR THE NUMBER OF TIMES I HAVE ASKED YOU TO EXPLAIN WHO OR WHAT FORCED YOU TO POST THE COMMENTS YOU HAVE MADE AT THIS WEBSITE. DO YOU NOT THINK IT IS PECULIAR THAT YOU SUGGEST YOU DID NOT CHOOSE TO POST THE COMMENTS YOU HAVE MADE AT THIS WEBSITE, AND YET, YOU WILL NOT SPECIFY WHAT FORCED YOU TO DO SO?!

          You write, “The conscious mind is not the origin of conscious thought: Fact. We did not decide the process by which our thoughts develop: fact.” First of all, please remind me what your argument was to support these assertions. I’m sorry, I do not recall. Are you trying to establish these as “fact” merely by making a forceful assertion?

          You say that “the counter is now on 5 for the number of times that you have refused to respond to how we control our thoughts.” However, the mechanism by which we control our thoughts (if there were any such mechanism other than our immaterial soul) is of no relevance whatsoever to the question of whether or not we control our thoughts.

          You write, “The conscious mind cannot be the origin of conscious thought, and we were in no position to create the mechanism by which our minds work (and so we don’t control either our first thoughts, or how they develop).”

          I have never argued that the conscious mind is the origin of conscious thought…so why are you trying to argue that it is not the origin of conscious thought. Under the theistic model (non-materialist), the source of thoughts and actions is the immaterial soul.

          Your argument for determinism (not controlling our thoughts or actions) is wholly circular because it rests on the presumption that human beings do not have an immaterial soul, but rather are entirely material entities. Am I wrong? Does this misrepresent your stance?

          In order to reach the conclusion that we are entirely material beings (robots made of meat?) without an immaterial soul which can make choices, your reasoning starts with the assumption that we are entirely material beings (robots made of meat) without an immaterial soul. This is circular reasoning in its purest sense.

          You write, “Now, once more, I ask you to show that our thoughts are in our control, or to concede the point.” Why did you ignore my previous citations?! PLEASE CAREFULLY READ THE FOLLOWING CITATIONS WHICH DEMONSTRATE THAT DETERMINISM IS IMPOSSIBLE IN LIGHT OF THE DISCOVERIES OF MODERN PHYSICS. THESE CITATIONS GET RIGHT TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER WHICH YOU AND I HAVE BEEN DISCUSSING! PAY PARTICULAR ATTENTION TO THE RESEARCH CITED BELOW WHICH SHOWS THAT MENTAL STATES PRECEDE PHYSICAL BRAIN STATES. THIS MEANS THAT SOMETHING OTHER THAN THE MATERIAL MIND CONTROLS THOUGHTS!! This immaterial controller of thoughts is the soul.

          As Montreal Neurological Institute neuroscientist Mario Beauregard points out in his book The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul, determinism is impossible in light of the discoveries of modern physics:

          “There is a principle…called the Heisenberg Uncertainty (indeterminacy) principle. It says that subatomic particles do not occupy definite positions in space or time; we can find out where they are only as a series of probabilities about where they might be (we must decide what we want to know).”

          “This area of physics, quantum physics, is the study of the behavior of matter energy at the subatomic level of our universe. Briefly, the synapses, the spaces between neurons of the brain, conduct signals using parts of atoms called ions. The ions function according to the rules of quantum physics, not of classical physics.”

          “What difference does it make if quantum physics governs the brain? Well, one thing we can dispose of right away is determinism, the idea that everything in the universe has been or can be predetermined. The basic level of our universe is a cloud of probabilities, not of laws. In the human brain, this means that our brains are not driven to process a given decision; what we really experience is a ‘smear’ of possibilities. But how do we decide between them?”

          UCLA Professor or Research Psychiatry Jeffrey M. Schwartz echoes Beauregard’s above points about the impossibility of determinism in light of modern physics, in his book The Mind & The Brain:

          “Though you would hardly know it from the arguments of those who appeal to physics to assert that all mental phenomena can be reduced to the electrochemical activity of neurons, physics has progressed from its classical Newtonian form and found itself in the strange land of the quantum. Once, physics dealt only with tangible objects: planets, balls, molecules, and atoms. Today, in the form of quantum mechanics, it describes a very different world, one built out of what [University of California, Berkeley physicist Henry] Stapp calls ‘a new kind of stuff,’ with properties of both the physical and the mental.”

          “…What we now know about quantum physics gives us reason to believe that conscious thoughts and volitions can, and do, play a powerful causal role in the world, including influencing the activity of the brain. Mind and matter, in other words, can interact.”

          Further, Stapp’s research has shown that, since mental activity precedes brain function, the mind and the brain cannot be said to be one-in-the-same. Rather, immaterial consciousness (the mind or soul) causes brain states. Schwartz notes how this conclusion dovetails neatly with his own research:

          “In fact, Stapp’s work suggests that there is no fully defined brain state until attention is focused. That physical activity within the brain follows the focus of attention offers the clearest explanation to date of how my hypothesized mental force can alter brain activity. The choice made by a patient—or, indeed, anyone—causes one physical brain state to be activated rather than another. A century after the birth of quantum mechanics, it may at last be time to take seriously its most unsettling idea: that the observer and the way he directs his attention are intrinsic and unavoidable parts of reality.”

          You write, “We are in no position to create the mechanism by which our minds work. (and so we don’t control either our first thoughts, or how they develop).”

          This is a complete non-sequitur. How does creating the mechanism by which our minds work relate to whether or not we can make moral choices? Can you please elaborate more on this? If God created us to have a soul with free will, then we have a soul with free will. Your reasoning is circular because you begin with the assumption that we do not have a soul with free will, in order to reach the conclusion that we do not have a soul with free will.

          Why is understanding the “mechanism” by which we enact our free (as if the mechanism were anything other than our immaterial soul) relevant to the question of whether or not we have free will? This is unclear. Could you please explain.

          Evil

          Jlw, I just don’t see where you are going with this. You are losing me. Can you please restate your premises concisely so that we can start fresh?

          The reason sin is desirable is because God wants people to choose to be in relationships with him. If you are not choosing between different desirable options, then you are choosing between different random options. This is why I have asked you the question of whether or not you would want to marry someone who chose you randomly….as opposed to choosing you from among other desirable options.

          But just because we have desires doesn’t mean that our desires control us and limit our free will. We can choose to not do things we strongly desire….such as an alcoholic choosing not to take another drink.

          Motive

          Why would God’s being perfectly complete in himself mean that he does not want to create? If creativity is part of God’s character, and he is perfect, then he is a perfect creator. Your argument rests on the presumption that God would only want to create in order to correct an imperfection…an imperfection which he does not have. But the suggestion that creativity comes only from striving to correct something is a non-sequitur.


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            jlw says:

            Free Will
            How does the fact we cannot predict our subsequent actions relate to the fact we do not control our thoughts or actions? You’re arguing against one possible chain of reasoning against free will, and it is not the chain of reasoning that I am using. Determinism in that situation is the idea all our actions is predetermined. My reasoning does not require this. Again, I ask, how does the fact our thoughts are not predetermined or predictable imply they are in our control?
            Whether or not we have a soul doesn’t matter. There is only one class of thing which anyone pretends we control: and that is what we are conscious of. Do you pretend to control what happens in your unconscious mind (material or otherwise)?
            Whether the conscious mind is contained partly, entirely, or outside of an immaterial soul does not matter. The conscious mind is merely a term used to cover all the thoughts we control, immaterial or otherwise.
            THE COUNTER IS NOW ON FOUR (4) FOR THE NUMBER OF TIMES I HAVE ASKED YOU TO EXPLAIN WHO OR WHAT FORCED YOU TO POST THE COMMENTS YOU HAVE MADE AT THIS WEBSITE.
            Wrong.
            13th January, 4:53 There is the fact I found this site, the fact I hold the views I do, the fact I find untruth stated as fact appalling: that is, my essential nature dictated by the life I have lived and the way I was born. Then we get on to the various thought processes that went on in my head. There are many causes for any decision, if you expect me to list all of them you are being absurd.
            15th January, 8:25: we’re influenced by many things. Past experiences, essential nature, yes thoughts…
            15th January, 3:54 Past memories and experiences, essential nature, thoughts and consideration. Of what relevance is this? Stating the origins of a thought, even if they come from within the mind, does not immediately show we control them.
            Are you finished lying now? Three answers when you say I’ve refused to answer four times. have a fourth answer to complete the set:
            Ask yourself the same question. What causes you to post on this website? My answer is likely to be similar, if not the same (you may involve a soul, but the processes of thought within that will be similar to those I refer to). ‘Free will’ alone is not an answer, because this freedom must act on something: what does it act on, what thoughts and desires? I simply hold that we are not in control of these things.

            The above is getting lengthy, so below I will restate my argument in full. The reasoning here is all you need respond to.
            1. The conscious mind (that is: all consciousness, all we are in control of: immaterial or otherwise) cannot be the origin of conscious (that is, controlled) thought. The best case scenario is an infinite regress, if it were: more realistically, we need to acknowledge how our minds are overtaken by unconsciously developed ideas, external devices, physical needs…
            2. We did not have any influence on what formed the process by which we think: whether material or immaterial. It was simply made to be part of us (whether a designed soul, or evolved brain).
            3. By 1, we do not control where thoughts come from. By 2, we do not control where they go.
            4. By 3, free will, in the sense we have the freedom to control our choices, is impossible.
            Do you hold that our minds are infinite and uncreated so that the chain of consciousness and conscious thoughts are endless, or that we somehow affected the way we think before we were able to think?
            I ask you to respond to the argument I am actually making, rather than stock responses to a completely different argument against free will.
            Or, if you believe talk of predicting actions or quantum uncertainty is relevant, please explain how it shows that we control our thoughts rather than saying how it disproves one form of determinism. If immateriality lets us control our thoughts, despite the fact the material nature of our minds is not part of my argument, please show it.

            Evil
            Again, I ask why removing the desirability of evil makes the choice random. If evil was not inherently desirable, you could choose between following God and all that involves (itself desirable), or rebelling against God for the purpose of rebelling against God. How does making evil undesirable remove all process of thought and consideration?
            My premises are:
            1. People are tempted by sin.
            2. God designed people.
            3. God does not want people to sin.
            4. If sin/evil was not tempting, less people would sin.
            Thus it follows from 2, 3 and 4 that 1 cannot hold. God would design people to not be tempted.
            The only premise I’ve seen anyone object to is the second (even from theists), and never in a workable manner.

            Motive
            That argument holds if you hold one of two premises. Either perfection desires imperfection, or that the world is perfect.
            (After all, it should be clear perfection cannot degenerate to imperfection. The ability to do so would be an imperfection).
            If perfection desires imperfection, then imperfection ranks higher than perfection: this is a contradiction, so it cannot be true.
            So, is the world perfect?
            If not, God has decreased the net perfection of all things. By the above disproven premise, this couldn’t be the case.
            Even granting the desire to create (far from unquestionable, but we’ll stick to these fresher grounds), we run into a problem with the way things are.


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              Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 43 ) says:

              Free will

              You write, “The conscious mind cannot be the origin of conscious thought.” How did you come to this conclusion? This is a non-sequitur. Can you cite a psychologist to back up this claim? Please explain.

              I think points made in the following article articulate the nonsensical nature of determinism quite well:

              http://mol.redbarn.org/objectivism/Writing/TiborMachan/DefenseOfFreeWill.html

              Are We Determined to be Determinists – or not?

              …If we are fully determined in what we think, believe, and do, then of course the belief that determinism is true is also a result of this determinism. But the same holds for the belief that there determinism is false. There is nothing you can do about whatever you believe – you had to believe it. There is no way to take an independent stance and consider the arguments unprejudiced because all various forces making us assimilate the evidence in the world just the way we do. One either turns out to be a determinist or not and in neither case can we appraise the issue objectively because we are predetermined to have a view on the matter one way or the other.

              But then, paradoxically, we’ll never be able to resolve this debate, since there is no way of obtaining an objective assessment. Indeed, the very idea of scientific or judicial objectivity, as well as of ever reaching philosophical truth, has to do with being free. Thus, if we’re engaged in this enterprise of learning about truth and distinguishing it from falsehood, we are committed to the idea that human beings have some measure of mental freedom.

              Well, JLW, I guess we will never be able to resolve this issue since external forces caused you to be a determinist, whereas external forces caused me to be an indeterminist. Lol.

              Should We Become Determinists?

              There’s another dilemma of determinism. The determinist wants us to believe in determinism. In fact, he believes we ought to be determinists rather than believe in this myth called “free will”. But, as the saying goes in philosophy, “ought” implies “can”. That is, if one ought to believe in or do something, this implies that one has a choice in the matter; it implies that we can make a choice as to whether determinism or the free will is a better doctrine. That, then, it assumes that we are free. In other words, even arguing for determinism assumes that we are not determined to believe in free will or determined but that it is a matter of our making certain choices about arguments, evidence, and thinking itself. That’s a paradox which troubles a deterministic position.

              This brings up an important question, JLW: What are you doing at this website trying to convince people to choose to be determinists…when determinism insists that we cannot choose such things? If determinism is true, nobody can CHOOSE to be a determinist. Are you NOT trying to convince people to CHOOSE to be determinists?!

              Ought people become determinists? Yes or no? If yes, then this implies that they can choose to do so, and that they therefore have a choice in the matter. If no, then what are you doing posting comments at this website?

              Perhaps most importantly, your belief in determinism is (according to your logic) shaped by such things as “past memories and experiences.” So chance life experiences led you to the truth of determinism? How is it that chance life events lead one to truth? How can it be determined which chance experiences lead to truth, and which chance experiences lead to untruth? Please explain.

              Earlier, you said that you “find untruth stated as fact appalling.” What is the point in correcting what you perceive to be my “untruths” if nobody has any choice in what they believe? According to your worldview, it would be more appropriate to say, “forces beyond your control are trying to correct the untruths held by others, and which are shaped by forces beyond their control.”

              Apparently, forces beyond your control have made you post comments at this website in an attempt to convince people to believe things which they have no ability to choose to believe. Love it!!

              ARE THERE ANY THIRD-PARTY READERS OUT THERE WHO ARE CONVINCED BY JLW’S LOGIC?

              Next, you write, “We did not have any influence on what formed the process by which we think: whether material or immaterial. It was simply made to be part of us (whether a designed soul, or evolved brain).”

              People have free will in the way they think, because people can alter the process by which they think. Cognitive therapy, for example, works by teaching people to alter the way they think. Regarding OCD patients consciously CHOOSING to correct their OCD, UCLA professor of research psychiatry Jeffrey Schwartz notes in The Mind and the Brain:

              “It thus offered the hope of understanding how directed mental force acts when OCD patients, by regularly choosing a healthy behavior over a compulsion, alter the gating function of their caudate nucleus in a way that changes the neural circuitry underlying their disease. What did we know about OCD patients who were following the Four Steps? For one thing, a successful outcome requires that a patient make willful changes in the meaning or value he places on the distressing “error” signals that the brain generates. Only by Relabeling and Revaluing these signals can the patient change the way he processes and responds to them. Once he understands the real nature of these false brain messages, the patient can actively Refocus attention away from the obsessive thoughts. Both the PET scans and the clinical data suggest that the quality of the attentional state—that is, whether it is mindful or unmindful—influences the brain and affects how, and even whether, patients actively process or robotically experience sensory stimuli as well as emotions and thoughts.”

              Please note how Schwartz says that patients correct their OCD by making willful choices. Please further note how Schwartz says that patients can CHOOSE to either “actively process or robotically experience sensory stimuli as well as emotions and thoughts.”

              Evil

              Next, you write, “You could rebel against God for the purpose of rebelling against God.” Rebelling against God for the purpose of rebelling against God is a random choice to rebel against God. Rebelling against God because it is desirable to do so, is NOT a random choice.

              Motive

              Again, your argument rests on the presumption that God creates to satisfy a desire. But this presumption assumes that you can know the mind of God, and God’s motives. Perhaps God creates because it is in his character to do so.


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    JaLyWh says:

    This doesn’t seem to be posting.
    I’ll answer relevant questions: that is, those related to the possibility of God. Others are, at this stage, a waste of time. My worldview is more than palatable, but there’s no point bringing that into a debate on whether or not it’s true.

    Free will
    You haven’t even begun to answer the question, don’t change the subject. I don’t know where you’re getting natural laws from: all I said is that we are not consciously responsible for our thoughts. We do not control how we think, we do not control the source of each chain of conscious thought. Show all our thoughts are in our control, or concede that free will does not exist.

    Evil
    Free will requires possibility only. We can be capable of evil without finding it desirable. The fact people are tempted to do so means we are designed to be able to feel temptation, rather than just ability. Answer the cases I raised, or concede that God has made us wish to sin.

    Motive
    I am stating facts you profess to know about God, and their consequences. I don’t need to know anything about God’s mind, beyond what you have stated as fact. God does not need to create the universe: fact, God does not want to create the universe: fact, from his perfection.


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 43 ) says:

      JaLyWh,

      Free Will

      Once again: Did you use your free will to write the comments which you have posted at this website? Yes or no? This is a very simple question. Please do not ignore it again or try to avoid it.

      If the answer is no, then what was responsible for forcing you to post these comments? If it was neither your free will nor natural laws, then what was it? Please explain. Why is it that we must be in control of all of our thoughts for free will to exist? This is a non-sequitur. Please explain the necessity of choosing every thought for free will to exist.

      Evil

      No, free will does not require possibility only. Rather, it requires choice. If God wants us to choose him, then there needs to be a true choice. If there were nothing desirable about sin, there would be no need to choose.

      Motive

      You don’t need to know anything about God’s mind to know what motivates him? This is a bold claim. Does a dog or cat understand what motivates us to do everything which we do? Do dogs and cats understand all of our motives?


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        jlw says:

        Free Will
        No, I did not use my free will: as stated, it does not exist. I would ask you to not change the subject. Deal with what I have said, rather than asking after esoteric, irrelevant observations.
        I find your idea that we can be free without being in control of our thoughts strange. If you are happy to concede that we are not in control of our thoughts (and, by extension, not in control of our actions, as every action we control must be thought about), please say so.

        Evil
        If free will requires choice, then possibility is all you need. If two possible paths lie before you, you have a choice between them. Whether or not one is more desirable than the other doesn’t matter, as I’m sure you agree. After all, looking elsewhere on your blog you have said that God is obvious, and I’m sure you also think God is more desirable than sin.
        We have one option more desirable than the other. Does this impact free will, or doesn’t it? If it does, then there is a contradiction elsewhere in your worldview. if it does not, my point stands. The desirability of evil could be removed, rendering God yet more preferable.
        Motive
        Don’t change what you have said after the fact. you are suggesting that you can fathom the mind of God quite clearly implies we cannot know anything about the mind of God. You’ve defeated the point of theology. Well done.
        If instead you believe we can know facts about God’s mind, then my question needs an answer. I am using known traits: namely, perfection, and said trait’s direct consequences.
        1. God does not need to create the universe.
        2. God does not want to create the universe. Which of those statements do you have a problem with, after my earlier justification, and why? Answer, or concede.


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          Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 43 ) says:

          Free will

          READERS PLEASE TAKE NOTE BECAUSE THIS IS INSTRUCTIVE: Jlw has just declared that he did not use his free will to make the comments which he has posted at this website. He apparently believes that forces beyond himself are responsible for posting the comments made in his name, but he refuses to specify who or what is responsible for the posting of his comments. This highlights the primary psychological motivation for atheism: a desire to be free from externally imposed moral constraints….externally imposed by God. Determinism is the belief that one’s actions are pre-determined by external forces, and that, therefore, one is not in control or responsible for one’s actions or moral choices. Belief in determinism is motivated by the same psychological desire to be free from externally imposed moral constraints which is a primary motivator of atheism.

          Jlw, I find your assertion that we have to be in control of all of our thoughts in order to have free will to be very strange. I am not always in complete control of my breathing…it is most often under the automatic control of my brain (my autonomic nervous system). However, if I wish to slow my breathing, or deepen it (etc.), I can choose to do so.

          Similarly, many of my thoughts come and go like clouds passing in the sky without my consciously choosing them. However, I can randomly choose something to think about if I wish. For example, I can choose to think about a vacation to Paris, I can choose to think about cats, or I can choose to think about responding to your comments.

          Once again, and this question is crucial: If you did not choose to post the comments you have made at this website, what was it that forced you to do so?

          I have found it useful to keep a counter of the number of times that an atheist ignores a question which cannot be coherently answered from within the framework of the atheist worldview: THE COUNTER IS NOW ON TWO (2) FOR THE NUMBER OF TIMES I HAVE ASKED YOU WHAT FORCED YOU TO POST THE COMMENTS YOU HAVE MADE AT THIS WEBSITE. You have already said that it was not you, and it was not natural laws behind the posting of these comments…so what was it?

          Suggesting that we are not in control of our actions or our moral choices is what is known as a performative contradiction in philosophical terms.

          The concept of performative contradiction is easy to understand: You can assert that you are not in control of your actions, but you cannot live your life (perform) as if you are not in control of your actions. For example, why do we even bother having a criminal justice system if people are not in control of their actions?

          The late Oxford professor and author C.S. Lewis writes in his book Mere Christianity:

          Everyone has heard people quarreling. They say things like this: “How’d you like it if anyone did the same to you?”–“Leave him alone, he isn’t doing you any harm.”–“Come on, you promised.”

          Now what interests me about all these remarks is that the man who makes them is not merely saying that the other man’s behavior does not happen to please him. He is appealing to some kind of standard behavior which he expects the other man to know about. And the other man very seldom replies: “To hell with your standard.” Nearly always he tries to make out that what he has been doing does not really go against the standard…It looks, in fact, very much as if both parties had in mind some kind of Law or Rule of fair play or decent behavior or morality…about which they are agreed.

          I am confident that if, for example, someone burglarized your house, you would feel a sense of moral outrage. You would probably call the police and you would press charges if the burglar were caught. Or am I wrong? Would you just sit back and say to yourself, “The burglar was not in control of his actions, therefore, I cannot feel a sense of moral outrage”?

          Simply put, neither you nor anybody else can live their life as if we are not in control of our actions and moral choices. No society could function without the underlying assumption that we are in control of our actions. This is why the belief that we are not in control of our actions commits a performative contradiction.

          Evil

          You write: “If free will requires a choice, then possibility is all you need.” This suggests that God wants us to make a mere random choice to engage in a relationship with him. But why would God want us to choose him randomly? This is strange. Would it be desirable to choose to marry someone who picked you as their spouse randomly?

          Motive

          You write: “…you are suggesting that you can fathom the mind of God quite clearly implies we cannot know anything about the mind of God. You’ve defeated the point of theology.”

          No, this is an add-on by you, and a complete non-sequitur. We can know things about the mind of God from observing the world around us. For example, we can know things about God’s character by observing the moral law written on our hearts. We know, for example, that shooting up a kindergarten with an assault rifle is MORALLY WRONG. Our knowledge of this undeniable moral truth is knowledge of an aspect of God’s character.

          A commenter named Adam incisively wrote (in the comment section of the essay titled Aren’t All Truths, All Morals, Relative?):

          “Reason demands that objective good and evil can only exist if there is some real, objective reference point- theists call this God and this would make sense as God is the only thing that can transcend human subjectivity.”

          However, we cannot know everything about God’s mind any more than a dog or cat can know everything about a human’s mind. Therefore, we can speculate about what motivated God to create the universe, but that is all.


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            jlw says:

            <b?Free Will
            If you want to know something that is instructive to read, there is how you treat changing the subject as a valid addition to the topic, even when the answers are self-evident. I write this because of several conditions. There is the fact I found this site, the fact I hold the views I do, the fact I find untruth stated as fact appalling: that is, my essential nature dictated by the life I have lived and the way I was born. Then we get on to the various thought processes that went on in my head. There are many causes for any decision, if you expect me to list all of them you are being absurd.
            Another example of changing the topic is when you decided to talk about performative contradiction rather than considering what I have said. If I was burgled, my anger would be at the fact I have lost my possessions: and I would call the police because the burglar is a dangerous figure. this is quarantine, not retribution. It also says nothing of whether or not the statement is true, only of how people act.
            If we can get back to what is actually relevant, I ask again: are you conceding that we are not in control of our thoughts and actions?
            Please answer that question. Your example in response talks about cases outside of moral actions, and supposes that we can control our choices. It is not relevant.
            To borrow your own tactic, THE COUNTER IS NOW ON THREE (3) FOR THE NUMBER OF TIMES YOU HAVE REFUSED TO RESPOND TO WHETHER OR NOT WE CONTROL OUR THOUGHTS.

            Evil
            Non sequitur. Randomness doesn’t enter into it, unless you’re admitting free will does not exist, in which case my work is done. Please read what I have written. To quote again:
            If free will requires choice, then possibility is all you need. If two possible paths lie before you, you have a choice between them. Whether or not one is more desirable than the other doesn’t matter, as I’m sure you agree. After all, looking elsewhere on your blog you have said that God is obvious, and I’m sure you also think God is more desirable than sin.
            We have one option more desirable than the other. Does this impact free will, or doesn’t it? If it does, then there is a contradiction elsewhere in your worldview. if it does not, my point stands. The desirability of evil could be removed, rendering God yet more preferable.

            Motive
            If you try to deduce something about God from the universe, you suppose you know how God thinks.
            Despite that, motive is the title of the argument as it comes from the question of motive. The argument I have expressed several times does not need you to give me a motive, it simply needs you to answer.
            1. God does not need to create the universe.
            2. God does not want to create the universe. Which of those statements do you have a problem with, after my earlier justification, and why? Answer, or concede.

            Please respond to my statements instead of changing the topic.


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              Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 43 ) says:

              Jlw,

              Free will

              YOU found this site? YOU hold the views that you do? YOU find “untruth stated as fact appalling,” as you put it?

              But I thought that it was forces outside of yourself that caused you to post the comments which you have made at this website!! This gets back to that performative contradiction again. You reference yourself as finding the site and holding certain views, but then you assert that you did not use free will to post your comments. Is it YOU expressing your views at this website, or is it forces outside of yourself (which you refuse to define) which are forcing you to express your views?! Please explain.

              No, I am not conceding that we are not in control of our thoughts and actions! Did you miss what I said in my last comment?! I will copy and paste:

              I am not always in complete control of my breathing.…it is most often under the automatic control of my brain (my autonomic nervous system). However, if I wish to slow my breathing, or deepen it (etc.), I can choose to do so.

              Similarly, many of my thoughts come and go like clouds passing in the sky without my consciously choosing them. However, I can randomly choose something to think about if I wish. For example, I can choose to think about a vacation to Paris, I can choose to think about cats, or I can choose to think about responding to your comments.

              My referencing of your performative contradictions is not a changing of the subject. Nobody can live their life, and no society can exist, as if we are not in control of our moral choices. Why do we even bother having a criminal justice system if this we are not responsible for our moral choices? Please please explain!!

              I asked you if you would call the police if your house was burglarized, and you responded, “I would call the police because the burglar is a dangerous figure.” Notice that you said that YOU would call the police. Calling the police for a reason is a reference to a CHOICE made by an agent….namely, YOU. This is the performative contradiction which I have been talking about.

              Regarding your counter, I answered your question in my previous post, but you seem to have not read my previous post. We ARE in control of our thoughts. I can choose what I want to think about if I decide to. How many third-party viewers of this discussion do you really think you are going to convince by suggesting that we cannot choose our thoughts?!

              Evil

              The desirability of the options impacts free will? No, it absolutely does not. If you saw an opportunity to steal money in a way that you were confident that you would not get caught, the more desirable option would be to steal the money. However, we can make the moral CHOICE to not steal the money.

              A drug addict’s desires lead him or her to desire more drug use. However, he/she can make a moral choice to not use drugs anymore. This is an exercise of free-will.

              Motive

              You say, “If you try to deduce something about God from the universe, you suppose you know how God thinks.” But I am not saying that we can deduce EVERYTHING about how God thinks. That would be ridiculous.

              Which of your two statements do I disagree with?

              #2 suggests that we can know all of God’s motives. This is like thinking that a dog or cat can know all of his owner’s motives. Absurd.


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    jlw says:

    Atheism is based upon the statement “There is no reason to believe God exists.” Well, that’s agnostic atheism, but that’s what’s usually meant by it. Gnostic atheism is held by few, and generally only in regards to one or two deities.

    Experimentally verified observation? Logic is enough to prove a great deal. Science is more than biology, physics and chemistry: those three disciplines are the most useful, and the only ones where your narrow definition of science is enough.
    Psychiatry is technically a science, in that it seeks to explains facts of the world. Experiments are few and far between, it’s based on logic. Mathematics is a fundamental science, and experiments are impossible: deduction is.
    Deduction is often enough.

    You want verified observations which support atheism, as far as your God goes? Have three.

    The Non-Existence of Free Will
    Christianity requires free will. Free will requires us to consciously control our actions: the conscious mind cannot be the origin of conscious thought, how could it?
    Thus, thoughts are out of are control, thus free will in the required sense is impossible.

    Evil is Desirable
    People are tempted by sin. God created humanity: he created us able to sin, which is understandable, but then he also made us in a way in which we desire many things he calls sinful.
    We cannot curse with ‘oh my god’ etc, but cursing has benefits (for example, it allows us to bear pain for longer, look it up). We cannot masturbate or fornicate, but God invented the orgasm which makes non-procreative sex desirable. If procreation was the primary purpose, a child would be reward enough.
    This is ridiculous. God wouldn’t design a race for which sin is desirable. Something can be possible without being tempting.

    Motive
    God needs nothing, God is complete in himself. There is nothing that makes creating the universe necessary.
    As God is perfect, the creation of anything could only decrease the overall perfection of the universe.
    God would not need, or want, to create the universe.

    Three logically incoherent elements of theism. It is only enough to go as far as gods similar to yours, but that’s all that’s needed for the purposes of this site.
    More generally, there’s no reason to suppose a deity is needed, and that’s all that atheism needs to be held. Before you argue against that, however, show your God’s even possible.


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      DJA says:

      “The Non-Existence of Free Will
      ………… thus free will in the required sense is impossible. “

      How does the bible describe Free Will? Does it match your definition (“Free will requires us to consciously control our actions”) of Free Will?
      Here is a verse to think about “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. . . . But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me” (Romans 7:15, 20).
      What does the bible teach us about sin and salvation? How does this relate too free will?

      “Evil is Desirable
      People are tempted by sin……….without being tempting.”

      Good is Desirable. Why do we have Evil and Good choices or desires?

      Here are two verses to reflect upon.

      James 1:14-15
      14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

      “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

      “Motive
      God needs nothing, God is complete………… God’s even possible.”

      Creation is fundamentally the consequence of the divine attribute of being the Creator. This doesn’t indicate that God in any sense “needs” creation. “God is free from all needs. It is creation which needs Him.

      “As God is perfect, the creation of anything could only decrease the overall perfection of the universe.”
      How could we even be able to determine this when we are not perfect? What is the perfect God or creator? How are to determine the motives of a perfect God?

      Why does God create? Why is there something rather than nothing?

      Did God create to bring glory to himself?

      God cannot deny himself, is it not within the character of God to create?


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        jlw says:

        dja,
        Free Will
        The Bible needs us to be in control of our actions to deal with several other flaws. Retributive punishment, as biblically outlined, needs responsibility. Free will needs to be separate to being ruled by uncontrolled influences for God’s non-intervention to make sense. Two examples offhand.
        If you’re not in control of whether or not you choose salvation, what does that mean?

        Evil
        None of those answers the contradiction that a God who does not desire evil would not create a race who found it desirable.

        Motive
        Look at lower comments, Scott brought up that exact point. It would not be in God’s character to create this universe: that is a fundamental fact. Perfect could not bring about imperfection; whatever motives God might have had don’t enter into it, the name of this section is only there because it comes from the question of motive (as outlined by, for example, Spinoza):
        If God acts for an object, he necessarily desires something which he lacks. Certainly, theologians and metaphysicians draw a distinction between the object of want and the object of assimilation; still they confess that God made all things for the sake of himself, not for the sake of creation. They are unable to point to anything prior to creation, except God himself, as an object for which God should act, and are therefore driven to admit (as they clearly must), that God lacked those things for whose attainment he created means, and further that he desired them.
        A perfect God would not add anything to existence: it should be just perfection. Saying creation is a divine attribute is just false.


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 43 ) says:

      Jlw,

      Free Will: Did you use your free will to type the comments you have posted at this website, or were you forced to do so by natural laws? Which was it? If it was natural laws that compelled you to write the comments, then why do you suppose natural laws involve themselves in online discussions? Please explain.

      Evil is Desirable: God gave us free will to choose between good and evil. If he did not create us in such a way, then we would be mere robots. Too often, we choose evil. You are putting all of the responsibility on God because it benefits your belief system to do so.

      Judging from your disbelief in free-will, you apparently believe that we humans are basically robots who cannot make choices? Am I mistaken?

      Motive: By saying that “God would not need, or want, to create the universe,” you are suggesting that you can fathom the mind of God. But this is absurd.


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    jlw says:

    False equivalence.
    Making a comparison doesn’t make it valid. Ideas that stem from mythology and not the scientific method have no relationship with experimentally verified observations.


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 43 ) says:

      Jlw,

      Bo Jinn notes in Illogical Atheism that:

      Science is a combination of three exercises, which work in stages;

      (1) Postulating patterns in nature;

      (2) Deducing them, and then;

      (3) Inferring rational conclusions which provide a basis for postulating further patterns.

      Atheism can only be based upon interpretations of science, not upon science itself.

      Renowned physicists Paul Davies and John Gribbin devote their book The Matter Myth to debunking the philosophical interpretation of science known as materialism (upon which atheism is based). Davies and Gribbin write:

      “The case for the scientific world view rests on the claim that science deals with truth.

      The image of science as a pure and objective distillation of real world experience is, of course, an idealization. In practice, the nature of scientific truth is often much more subtle and contentious.

      At the heart of the scientific method is the construction of theories. Scientific theories are essentially models of the real world (or parts thereof), and a lot of the vocabulary of science concerns the models rather than the reality. For example, scientists often use the word ‘discovery’ to refer to some purely theoretical advance. Thus one often hears it said that Stephen Hawking ‘discovered’ that black holes are not black, but emit heat radiation. This statement refers solely to a mathematical investigation. Nobody has yet seen a black hole, much less detected any heat radiation from one.”

      Please tell me what “experimentally verified observations” you have that supports atheism!! I am very extremely curious to hear your reply. Darwinism relies on a vast number of unobserved mutations and upon a fossil record that does not support Darwinism. To quote the late great Harvard University paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould in a 1977 issue of Natural History, “the extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology — we fancy ourselves as the only true students of life’s history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study.”


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    skl says:

    Hello Scott, I could not let this go without a reply because I do not believe you know anything about atheism.

    ***Atheism is frequently promoted as a “scientific” belief system, but atheists would be well advised to abandon this line of propaganda***

    This is always a very bizarre statement, most atheists simply believe in evolution and many other scientific events regarding our existence, however this concept comes only from religious people who oppose these views and class this as a “scientific belief system” with parallels to religion or “propaganda” just like a political system. To believe in evolution is not a religion in any form of the religious literal sense and it does not promote god like worship or praying to the scientists involved any more than a celebrity does to their adoring fans. To believe that John Dalton who advanced the old Greek idea that matter is composed of small, indivisible, and unalterable particles called atoms or Sir Isaac Newton who discovered gravity are a type of “belief system” or “propaganda” is extremely misguided to say the least.

    ***If these theories were regarded as “science” in their day, but as “error” and “superstition” today, then why should we not assume that the scientific theories of today will become the error and superstition of tomorrow? Kuhn writes:***

    In my opinion credible scientific theories have evolved from almost pure assumptions and speculations in the past into far more accurate theories just as science has evolved and today theories are considerably more supported due to our rapidly advancing technology and knowledge we have of the planet and solar systems.

    ***But in reality, it is misleading to suggest that science is a simple exercise of making “discoveries” through mere observation. Physicists Davies and Gribbin explain how the line between scientific model and reality often becomes “hopelessly blurred” in The Matter Myth:***

    The facts are all that count in science. Nothing is hopelessly blurred when the physical evidence is discovered time after time such as the skeletons supporting the Darwinian evolution. Every scientific theory is hopelessly blurred and that is exactly how it should be until the supporting evidence is accumulated or proves otherwise, however the supporting facts or evidence that do exist and confirm parts of a theory should not be discarded due to a belief of another theory that is conjecture without equal supporting facts or evidence.

    ***“Among my friends and acquaintances, everybody distrusts Wikipedia and everybody uses it. ***

    It is by far the best we have got due to the less biased views that emerge in web sites dedicated to particular religious or non-religious beliefs.

    ***The public has a distorted view of science, because children are taught in school that science is a collection of firmly established truths. In fact, science is not a collection of truths. It is a continuing exploration of mysteries….The origin of life is a total mystery, and so is the existence of human consciousness. We have no clear idea how the electrical discharges occurring in nerve cells in our brains are connected with our feelings and desires and actions***

    I disagree, there are many established scientific facts that are taught to children and I do not know of any continuing exploration or mysteries that scientists state as an established truth that is taught in our schools. Theories are taught as theories just as Stephen Hawkings black holes are but we must teach what the reasoning is behind such theories. As you take such a firm view of teaching truth, what is your opinion on teaching children that Adam and Eve is an established fact?

    ***history will ultimately judge Neo-Darwinism as “a minor twentieth-century religious sect within the sprawling religious persuasion of Anglo-Saxon Biology.”***

    This again is a typical statement from a religious someone who cannot define the difference between a religion and a non-religion, between worship and belief, or even a god and a man. Darwinism is hardly “minor” and is Margulis the best scientist to try and debunk Darwin?

    ***Margulis discusses the persistence of neo-Darwinian theory, despite its deteriorating plausibility, with journalist Susan Mazur: ***

    Margulis has a theory and if it takes on more credibility she will establish herself at the top of the pile with atheists just as Darwin has, but of course she currently has not and until she does Darwin has the inside running and so far he is improving his position with scientists and religious organisations alike I might add, therefore this is the best we have so far in explaining life on our planet and the deteriorating plausibility you claimed is far from the truth.


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 43 ) says:

      SKL,

      I will insert your comments between stars and then respond below:

      ***SKL: This is always a very bizarre statement, most atheists simply believe in evolution and many other scientific events regarding our existence, however this concept comes only from religious people who oppose these views and class this as a “scientific belief system” with parallels to religion or “propaganda” just like a political system. To believe in evolution is not a religion in any form of the religious literal sense and it does not promote god like worship or praying to the scientists involved any more than a celebrity does to their adoring fans. To believe that John Dalton who advanced the old Greek idea that matter is composed of small, indivisible, and unalterable particles called atoms or Sir Isaac Newton who discovered gravity are a type of “belief system” or “propaganda” is extremely misguided to say the least.***

      Here, you commit the same confusion of science with ontology which I described in this essay as absolutely permeating atheist thought. Darwinian evolution is a scientific theory. The belief that the Darwinian mechanism (and all other natural mechanisms, laws, etc.) are mindless and unguided is an ontological stance. Please read my essay titled Why Evolution Cannot Be Used to Rationalize Atheism for a further exploration of this topic.

      If you are an atheist who does not believe that mindless material processes are responsible for such things as the origin of life, and the origin of the universe, etc., then you are a very rare breed. I very strongly suspect that you DO believe this. Am I wrong?

      You seem to define “religion” as only those belief systems which are theistic. However, this is an entirely arbitrary and culturally situated definition of “religion.” In fact, scholars of religion have been completely unable to come to anything even remotely resembling a consensus view of just what “religion” is. Atheism and agnosticism fit many of the diverse definitions of “religion” present in religious scholarship. Please read my essay titled Doesn’t Religion Cause Killing to learn more about this topic.

      K.A. Smith comments in Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church:

      “We all – whether naturalists, atheists, Buddhists, or Christians – see the world through the grid of an interpretive framework – and ultimately this interpretive framework is religious in nature, even if not allied with a particular institutional religion.”

      ***SKL: In my opinion credible scientific theories have evolved from almost pure assumptions and speculations in the past into far more accurate theories just as science has evolved and today theories are considerably more supported due to our rapidly advancing technology and knowledge we have of the planet and solar systems.***

      Thank you for your opinion. Do you have any particular argument to counteract my citations of the elite scientists Lynn Margulis, Freeman Dyson, Paul Davies, and John Gribbin?

      ***SKL: The facts are all that count in science. Nothing is hopelessly blurred when the physical evidence is discovered time after time such as the skeletons supporting the Darwinian evolution. Every scientific theory is hopelessly blurred and that is exactly how it should be until the supporting evidence is accumulated or proves otherwise, however the supporting facts or evidence that do exist and confirm parts of a theory should not be discarded due to a belief of another theory that is conjecture without equal supporting facts or evidence.***

      The facts are all that count in science? Did you miss my citation of physicists Paul Davies and John Gribbin? I will copy and paste it since you apparently missed it:

      “At the heart of the scientific method is the construction of theories. Scientific theories are essentially models of the real world (or parts thereof), and a lot of the vocabulary of science concerns the models rather than reality. For example, scientists often use the word ‘discovery’ to refer to some purely theoretical advance. Thus one often hears it said that Stephen Hawking ‘discovered’ that black holes are not black, but emit heat radiation. That statement refers solely to a mathematical investigation. Nobody has yet seen a black hole, much less detected any heat radiation from one.

      …So long as scientific models stick closely to direct experience, where common sense remains a reliable guide, we feel confident that we can distinguish between the model and the reality. But in certain branches of physics it is not always so easy. The concept of energy, for example, is a familiar one today, yet it was originally introduced as a purely theoretical quantity in order to simplify the physicists’ description of mechanical and thermodynamical processes. We cannot see or touch energy, yet we accept that it really exists because we are so used to discussing it.

      The situation is even worse in the new physics, where the distinction between the model and reality sometimes becomes hopelessly blurred. In quantum field theory, for instance, theorists often refer to abstract entities called ‘virtual’ particles. These ephemeral objects come into existence out of nothing, and almost immediately fade away again. Although a faint trace of their fleeting passage can appear in ordinary matter, the virtual particles themselves can never be directly observed. So to what extent can they be said to really exist?”

      What is the evidence supporting Darwinian macroevolution? To quote the late, great Harvard University paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of science Stephen Jay Gould, from a 1977 issue of Natural History, “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology — we fancy ourselves as the only true students of life’s history, yet to preserve our favoured account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study.”

      ***SKL: I disagree, there are many established scientific facts that are taught to children and I do not know of any continuing exploration or mysteries that scientists state as an established truth that is taught in our schools. Theories are taught as theories just as Stephen Hawkings black holes are but we must teach what the reasoning is behind such theories. As you take such a firm view of teaching truth, what is your opinion on teaching children that Adam and Eve is an established fact?***

      Would you please cite some scientific facts which are not related to a scientific model? Hint: You can’t.

      My views about Adam and Eve are best articulated by the biblical scholar and former MIT Professor of Physics Gerald Schreoder. Click on the below article by Schroeder titled The Two Souls of Mankind:

      http://geraldschroeder.com/wordpress/?page_id=102

      ***SKL: This again is a typical statement from a religious someone who cannot define the difference between a religion and a non-religion, between worship and belief, or even a god and a man. Darwinism is hardly “minor” and is Margulis the best scientist to try and debunk Darwin?***

      No, Margulis was not “religious” in the sense of belonging to a theistic religion like Christianity (I use the past tense since she died in 2011). Margulis was not trying to debunk Darwin. She was an atheist. In fact, she was married to Carl Sagan for 8 years. Sagan was one of the most prominent atheist scientists of the 20th century.

      You need to get over the idea that only “religious people” (who you arbitrarily define as people who believe in God) doubt Darwinism. Those at the cutting edge of science, the most elite biologists and geneticists, clearly do realize that Darwinism has failed, but are very reluctant to admit it. You would realize this if you read The Altenberg 16, which I cite in this essay.

      I encourage you to read The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn. This book, as I mentioned, is a pivotal work on the history, philosophy, and sociology of science. Kuhn explains how scientists cannot abandon a theory such as Darwinism just because they realize that it has failed. Rather, they must continue to embrace that theory until a new theory comes along that can better explain scientific observations and data. In short, science cannot proceed without a theoretical framework (or paradigm) of some kind.

      ***SKL: Margulis has a theory and if it takes on more credibility she will establish herself at the top of the pile with atheists just as Darwin has, but of course she currently has not and until she does Darwin has the inside running and so far he is improving his position with scientists and religious organisations alike I might add, therefore this is the best we have so far in explaining life on our planet and the deteriorating plausibility you claimed is far from the truth.***

      Margulis was one of the most elite biologists of the last 50 years. In fact, she won the U.S. Presidential Medal for Science. Darwin was not an atheist. Rather, he was VERY EXPLICIT about his belief in God. He wrote the following in his autobiography:

      “Another source of conviction in the existence of God, connected with the reason and not with the feelings, impresses me as having much more weight. This follows from the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist.”


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    Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 43 ) says:

    .

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