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Research on tweeting shows Christians happier, less analytical

A sample of research that merely ignores demographics:

une 26, 2013 — A computer analysis of nearly 2 million text messages (tweets) on the online social network Twitter found that Christians use more positive words, fewer negative words and engage in less analytical thinking than atheists. Christians also were more likely than atheists to tweet about their social relationships, the researchers found.

Overall, tweets by Christians had more positive and less negative content than tweets by atheists, the researchers report. A less analytical thinking style among Christians and more frequent use of social words were correlated with the use of words indicating positive emotions, the researchers also said.

Okay, but so what? There are many more serious Christians in the world than serious atheists. One outcome is that it is not especially difficult for most Christians to spend their social time mainly with people they like and get along with.* These types of situations don’t invite much analysis or many negative emotions.

Also because the net is wide, serious Christians will include many people, probably the majority, who are not especially intellectual. My impression is that most atheists are intellectuals.

In any event, people who belong to small minorities often face more limited social opportunities. The fact that two men are both atheists by no means implies that they will get along. It may increase the chances that they don’t.

I don’t doubt that there are spiritual issues as well. If you believe you live in a universe that doesn’t care whether you love or hate, it may be easier to hate than otherwise. But I leave that part to wiser heads. The main thing is, for any type of validity, this sort of research should be more firmly grounded in demographics.

* In Christian groups, this is often viewed as problem because it hinders evangelism.

Hat tip: Brains on Purpose

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94 Responses to Research on tweeting shows Christians happier, less analytical

  1. Nice post News, you do a great job finding interesting items! May your day be filled with God’s blessings and wonders :)

  2. I disagree with their conclusion that atheists are more analytical though. For instance the last sentence of the article states that,,,

    “If religion improves happiness indirectly through other factors, those benefits could also be found outside religious groups.”

    ,,, and they do not analyze that claim they make and just leave it hanging their. i.e. Skepticism is NOT analysis! Exactly how does one ground happiness in the nihilistic philosophy of naturalism? But if one honestly analyzes the naturalistic philosophy of atheist then one finds that naturalism is false. In fact, as Dr. Craig points out, Metaphysical Naturalism is reducto ad absurdum on (at least) these eight following points:

    1. The argument from the intentionality (aboutness) of mental states implies non-physical minds (dualism), which is incompatible with naturalism
    2. The existence of meaning in language is incompatible with naturalism, Rosenberg even says that all the sentences in his own book are meaningless
    3. The existence of truth is incompatible with naturalism
    4. The argument from moral praise and blame is incompatible with naturalism
    5. Libertarian freedom (free will) is incompatible with naturalism
    6. Purpose is incompatible with naturalism
    7. The enduring concept of self is incompatible with naturalism
    8. The experience of first-person subjectivity (“I”) is incompatible with naturalism

    Is Metaphysical Naturalism Viable? – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzS_CQnmoLQ

    In fact ‘analytical’ thinking itself, which atheists falsely pride themselves on, cannot be grounded in naturalism as is revealed by the inability of scientists to purge teleology from their language:

    Design Thinking Is Hardwired in the Human Brain. How Come? – October 17, 2012
    Excerpt: “Even Professional Scientists Are Compelled to See Purpose in Nature, Psychologists Find.” The article describes a test by Boston University’s psychology department, in which researchers found that “despite years of scientific training, even professional chemists, geologists, and physicists from major universities such as Harvard, MIT, and Yale cannot escape a deep-seated belief that natural phenomena exist for a purpose” ,,,
    Most interesting, though, are the questions begged by this research. One is whether it is even possible to purge teleology from explanation.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65381.html

    In fact, instead of rational analysis of the facts, I hold that atheists live in a constant state of irrational denialism of the facts as is noted by this infamous quote by Francis Crick:

    Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved. It might be thought, therefore, that evolutionary arguments would play a large part in guiding biological research, but this is far from the case. – Francis Crick

    On the other here is an honest biologist that realizes that naturalism cannot ground what he is seeing in molecular biology:

    Life, Purpose, Mind: Where the Machine Metaphor Fails – June 2011
    Excerpt: I’m a working biologist, on bacterial regulation (transcription and translation and protein stability) through signalling molecules, ,,, I can confirm the following points as realities: we lack adequate conceptual categories for what we are seeing in the biological world; with many additional genomes sequenced annually, we have much more data than we know what to do with (and making sense of it has become the current challenge); cells are staggeringly chock full of sophisticated technologies, which are exquisitely integrated; life is not dominated by a single technology, but rather a composite of many; and yet life is more than the sum of its parts; in our work, we biologists use words that imply intentionality, functionality, strategy, and design in biology–we simply cannot avoid them.
    Furthermore, I suggest that to maintain that all of biology is solely a product of selection and genetic decay and time requires a metaphysical conviction that isn’t troubled by the evidence. Alternatively, it could be the view of someone who is unfamiliar with the evidence, for one reason or another. But for those who will consider the evidence that is so obvious throughout biology, I suggest it’s high time we moved on. – Matthew
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....nt-8858161

    Verse and music:

    Psalm 16:11
    You will show me the path of life;
    In Your presence is fullness of joy;
    At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

    Alison Krauss – There Is A Reason
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWXNm9b6pKs

  3. They’ll have their fingers in their ears, so to speak, Philip… Don’t expect them to opt for the enlightenment of empirically-attested truth any time soon – as we all know.

    But it’s great to have you post this information, on top of all the other evidence against their folly.

  4. I saw this “study” and it made me laugh. A “scientific” study of twitter feeds presumes to prove that atheists have better analytical thinking skills? It takes so much naïveté to take this seriously that anyone who does (like the authors of the study) are probably not the best judges of analytical thinking.

  5. Axel, I just can’t reconcile findings like this:

    “All living cells that we know of on this planet are ‘DNA software’-driven biological machines comprised of hundreds of thousands of protein robots, coded for by the DNA, that carry out precise functions. ”
    — Craig Venter, Trinity College Dublin, July 12, 2012

    With the atheist’s claim that they are the rational ones for believing it was not designed. It is not even in the ballpark of ‘analytical’ thinking! :)

  6. BB77, I can’t really take Dr Craig seriously when discussing free will, I’ve read his free will ideas on this site/blog and I can’t help to think he’s deluded like I think most Christians are.

    For example, in a video, which I can’t find now (I think provided by you BB77), he was debating with some people about free will, and one of them asked him: “What if an old person has a brain condition that causes him to hate God” and Craig said something like “I think that God would ignore that person’s new self and only consider the person as he was before the brain condition”.

    What kind of argument is that? Where do you define the line where our brain affects our actions and where our actions are not affected by our brain?

    That’s why Christians have to be deluded somehow into believing in free will, just like Darwinists are deluded into naturalism.

  7. Well Proton, seeing as I don’t know what video you are talking about, neither do I hold Dr. Craig to be infallible as I hold Jesus Christ to be, I really can’t comment on what you on what you think he may or may not have said. But as to you denying free will, well the insanity inherent in that whole proposition is self evident by the fact you are on this site trying to argue in favor of your position with the hope that you may persuade me that you are right and I am wrong! If there is truly no free will as you hold then what is the point proton?

    Sam Harris’s Free Will: The Medial Pre-Frontal Cortex Did It – Martin Cothran – November 9, 2012
    Excerpt: There is something ironic about the position of thinkers like Harris on issues like this: they claim that their position is the result of the irresistible necessity of logic (in fact, they pride themselves on their logic). Their belief is the consequent, in a ground/consequent relation between their evidence and their conclusion. But their very stated position is that any mental state — including their position on this issue — is the effect of a physical, not logical cause.
    By their own logic, it isn’t logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....66221.html

    Moreover proton you have the little issue of quantum mechanics itself refuting your position:

    in the following experiment, the claim that past material states determine future conscious choices (determinism) is falsified by the fact that present conscious choices effect past material states:

    Quantum physics mimics spooky action into the past – April 23, 2012
    Excerpt: The authors experimentally realized a “Gedankenexperiment” called “delayed-choice entanglement swapping”, formulated by Asher Peres in the year 2000. Two pairs of entangled photons are produced, and one photon from each pair is sent to a party called Victor. Of the two remaining photons, one photon is sent to the party Alice and one is sent to the party Bob. Victor can now choose between two kinds of measurements. If he decides to measure his two photons in a way such that they are forced to be in an entangled state, then also Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair becomes entangled. If Victor chooses to measure his particles individually, Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair ends up in a separable state. Modern quantum optics technology allowed the team to delay Victor’s choice and measurement with respect to the measurements which Alice and Bob perform on their photons. “We found that whether Alice’s and Bob’s photons are entangled and show quantum correlations or are separable and show classical correlations can be decided after they have been measured”, explains Xiao-song Ma, lead author of the study.
    According to the famous words of Albert Einstein, the effects of quantum entanglement appear as “spooky action at a distance”. The recent experiment has gone one remarkable step further. “Within a naïve classical world view, quantum mechanics can even mimic an influence of future actions on past events”, says Anton Zeilinger.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-04-q.....ction.html

    In other words, if my conscious choices really are just merely the result of whatever state the material particles in my brain happen to be in in the past (deterministic) how in blue blazes are my choices instantaneously effecting the state of material particles into the past?, Materialism simply has no coherent explanation as to how it can be possible.

    supplemental note:

    Algorithmic Information Theory, Free Will and the Turing Test – Douglas S. Robertson
    Excerpt: For example, the famous “Turing test” for artificial intelligence could be defeated by simply asking for a new axiom in mathematics. Human mathematicians are able to create axioms, but a computer program cannot do this without violating information conservation. Creating new axioms and free will are shown to be different aspects of the same phenomena: the creation of new information.
    http://cires.colorado.edu/~dou...../info8.pdf

  8. semi related: What is The Euthyphro Dilemma? With William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgGB4Oxs5VU

  9. From the OP: “My impression is that most atheists are intellectuals.”

    I have the exact opposite impression. This is unscientifically based on the various atheists I’ve dealt with on the Internet.

  10. BB77, you’re missing my point I think. I know this argument of “if free will does not exists then there’s no meaning or purpose on whatever you say or do”, but I don’t see how that adds up.

    Just to clarify, I’m an agnostic theist. I believe a Designer exists, but I think common sense points to the God of the Bible being false. And I’ve found myself surprised by the fact that so many IDs are Christians, because I thought rationality led to finding the idea of free will wrong. I’m eager to see if I’m failing to see something, or if I’m right and Christians are really deluded somehow.

    Now, there’s a distinction here to make I think. Christians put the idea of free will on a pedestal, and say that the if free will doesn’t exists, then there’s no meaning in anything that people choose to do. I think that’s wrong. I think that the problem here is defining WHAT is exactly meaningful for a Christian, and what is meaningful to non-Christian like me.

    It seems that in world where choices are just the result of chemical reactions, Christians find no meaning in life, but that’s because your assuming that the Designer is God. But to non-Christians (whether theists or atheists) that’s just not true. However, let’s leave the definition of meaningul aside, and concentrate on what leads me to conclude that free will doesn’t exist.

    My train of thought:

    1) Everywhere around us we see how people’s decisions are affected by the place they were born, the health conditions under which they were born, the people that raised them, their early social interactions, their personalities, the school they went to, the friends they made, and overall their entire life experience, etc. In other words, their BACKGROUND.

    2) Hence, for free will to exist, such things shouldn’t ultimately affect a person’s choice.

    3) However we see EVERYWHERE that such a thing is FALSE: People who are born in poor, abusive and/or violent backgrounds do not usually become kind, loving people. On the other hand, people born in loving and caring backgounds usually become overall nice people. On the same way, people who are born in a family of atheists will most likely become atheists, and people who are born in a theistic family will most likely become theists too. And I can find more examples of this type of correlation, actually you can find it just by looking at anyone’s life experience.

    4) If free will was true, then someone’s background shouldn’t affect AT ALL what kind of person he/she becomes. However we see that OBVIOUSLY it does. There’s a REAL correlation between someone’s background and the type of person they become. And this correlation is the biggest proof, for me, that free will is false. If free will was true, then this correlation shouldn’t exist. But it does.

    5) Hence free will does not exist, and our choices (being a theist or atheist, doing overall good or bad things for others, etc.) are determined, or at least affected greatly, by our brackgrounds.

    Why did I say “or at least affected greatly”? Because I don’t rule out free will completely, maybe because of my early years as a Christian, but leaving that aside, when I sit down to give free will some rational thought based on the world around me, I always conclude that it’s false.

    I’d appreciate any Christians’ views on my train of thought up there (nothing will convince me that free will is real as long as I’m shown my train of thought has flaws). I honestly think that rational observation of the world and it’s people should convince anyone that free will is false.

  11. Sorry bornagain77, I don’t know why I call you “BB77″, maybe it should be “BA77″

  12. Proton since quantum mechanics itself verifies the existence of free will, as I have referenced, and yet you maintain that it is illusion, then there is really nothing further to say. As far as the science itself is concerned the matter is settled in favor of the existence of free will. Now you can try to explain the experiment I referenced in terms of local realism so as to make it compatible with your preferred belief and that would resolve your dilemma (many before you have tried), but playing semantics above that brute level of experimentation really is of no value.

  13. Proton writes, There’s a REAL correlation between someone’s background and the type of person they become. And this correlation is the biggest proof, for me, that free will is false.

    Correlation does not equal causation.

    There are many people born into dysfunctional families who grow up without becoming dysfunctional themselves. You’re ignoring the fact that a person growing up in an abusive household cannot possibly be anything but an abuser himself. This is logically incorrect.

    Many people grow up in abusive households and go on to not be abusers themselves. This is partially due to their social environment (at school or work, as examples) where they learn and understand that abuse is wrong, and that they do have a choice of whether or not to continue the cycle of abuse that they’re used to.

    One’s background is not one’s destiny. Anyone with a shred of common sense should be able to understand that.

  14. BA77, I don’t see how quantum mechanics favors free will. If the mind is really separated from the brain, then that doesn’t mean that the brain does not affect it, it just means that it doesn’t affect it through a material mechanism. Implying that non-material conciousness = free will makes no sense, because we’re obviously affected by the world we perceive through our material body. Free will is put into the equation by Christians for no apparent reason other than because the Bible says it exists. Would someone who didn’t read the Bible even entertain the idea of free will? I think that free will is a concept that only exists in the mind of Christians and not something you can infer from observing the world, just like evolution for naturalists.

    I feel you’re trying to escape the reality of the correlation I was talking about before.

    Do you deny the existence of this correlation? If you don’t, then you must admit that a person’s brackground affects the type of person he or she will become, and therefore free will is false. But if you do deny it, then I must conclude one of two things: 1-Christians have lost their observational abilities and ignore common sense to sustain their belief in free will (which I think is the case), or 2-My train of thought is flawed, in which case I kindly ask for someone to point out the flaws for me so I can understand their point of view.

    Please clarify it for me. Do you deny the correlation between a person’s background and the type of person they become? I’d really like a Yes/No answer from a Christian to that question.

  15. Barb:

    One’s background is not one’s destiny.

    I never said that. I know that SOME people are exceptions. But that’s the keyword here, SOME. The correlation is not perfect, but it’s big, and that’s the whole point. If free will was real then this correlation should be unexistent, but that’s not true.

    You implied it yourself with your words. You said “many people” when referring to how many people actually are the exception to the correlation I pointed out. You didn’t use the word “most” or “all”. Which means you accept that the correlation is the rule and not the exception.

    You blame me with lack of common sense but I’m failing to see the common sense behind your argument. It seems to me Christians bend their observations to fit their idea of free will. I’d be completely open to believing in free will, if it just fit the real world, which it fails to do.

  16. Proton, you’re falling prey to the “all or nothing” logical fallacy, in addition to the correlation=causation logical fallacy.

    Some people who are abused grow up to become abusers themselves. Do you believe that they had no choice in the matter, that they are simply responding to the whims of their genes?

    What about other people who are abused but who do not grow up to be abusers? This disproves the correlation that you mentioned earlier. This also proves that free will exists, because these people made a conscious choice not to abuse others.

  17. Barb, you’ve misrepresented what I’ve said. Twice.

    I never said that the correlation is perfect, and so I don’t see where in my argument I’m making an “all or nothing” statement.

    What about other people who are abused but who do not grow up to be abusers? This disproves the correlation that you mentioned earlier.

    That dispoves nothing, because again I never said that exceptions don’t exist, I said that “usually” (and there lies the correlation) abusive backgrounds fail to produce good/loving people. The correlation is not 1, but it’s high. And that’s why it’s easy to see that free will does not follow.

    This also proves that free will exists, because these people made a conscious choice not to abuse others.

    If that argument is THE argument for free will, then I’m feeling pretty confident about my belief that Christians are deluded. You’re saying free will exists because that people made a CONCIOUS choice not to abuse others? And what determines the conciousness? Well, given that a correlation exists between background and choice, then a rational person would conclude that conciousness (and therefore choice) depends on the genetic, social, family and cultural background (and any background that has a material base, even if the source is divine).

    I’m not saying that there’s nothing divine about humans and their choices, I’m just saying that all we know from experience is that people’s backgrounds have an effect on the choices they make, it’s useless to deny that, and so free will is true only in the minds of people who want it to be true.

    Since I’m not a Christian, a “choice” is nothing really important in a divine sense to me, only Christians put so much importance on human’s ability to choose between A and B and be held accountable for that choice. For non-Christian theists, I think the significance or purpose of life lies someplace else and so free will is not really important, though that’s not the reason to disregard it’s existence, as I explained before.

  18. Proton,

    Barb, you’ve misrepresented what I’ve said. Twice.

    Yes, get used to that here. The UD agenda is quite strong. The reasoning and science are not.

    Within five comments your words will be quoted next to those of either a Nazi or a serial killer.

  19. Proton:

    If that argument is THE argument for free will, then I’m feeling pretty confident about my belief that Christians are deluded.

    You would be wrong, of course. You’ve already used logical fallacies in coming to the erroneous conclusion that free will doesn’t exist. I have little hope of changing your mind.

    You’re saying free will exists because that people made a CONCIOUS choice not to abuse others? And what determines the conciousness?

    Your entire argument boils down to correlation equals causation, which is a logical error. Their choice is made, presumably, by their brains. They know that being abused is horrible and have chosen not to abuse others. If that is not free will, then what is it?

    Well, given that a correlation exists between background and choice, then a rational person would conclude that conciousness (and therefore choice) depends on the genetic, social, family and cultural background (and any background that has a material base, even if the source is divine).

    There is no gene for abusers. Again, you claim that one’s background is the be-all and end-all of one’s behavior. This is demonstrably false.

    I’m not saying that there’s nothing divine about humans and their choices, I’m just saying that all we know from experience is that people’s backgrounds have an effect on the choices they make, it’s useless to deny that, and so free will is true only in the minds of people who want it to be true.

    The fact that people choose to rise above their backgrounds in poverty or abuse is lost on you, isn’t it?

    People’s backgrounds do have an effect on the choices they make, but the fact that they are able to make choices indicates that they do have free will. If they didn’t, there would be no choices to make!

    Which one of us is deluded again?

    Since I’m not a Christian, a “choice” is nothing really important in a divine sense to me, only Christians put so much importance on human’s ability to choose between A and B and be held accountable for that choice.

    Everyone, believer or not, has choices to make with regards to behavior. And everyone is held accountable for their choices, good or bad. Actions (and ideas) have consequences.

    For non-Christian theists, I think the significance or purpose of life lies someplace else and so free will is not really important, though that’s not the reason to disregard it’s existence, as I explained before.

    Disregarding the existence of free will is, to me, illogical. Are you doing anything right now because your genes tell you, or because you want to?

  20. @LarTanner

    So if you don’t believe in free will you’re a Nazi or a serial killer?

    Or better put: If you’re not a Christian then you’re a Nazi or a serial killer?

    I thought only Darwinists had such a twisted/close-minded way of thinking, but it seems Christians can be guilty of such thinking too, if their religion is put to a test…

    Please let’s stay on topic. I started this discussion because I was eager to see what Christians thought of my argument against the existence of free will, mainly because I personally wanted to see if my argument had some flaws, because if what I’ve thought all my life.

    Whether free will is good/useful for morality is a completely different topic.

  21. Proton, perhaps it would be well for you to actually understand what they accomplished in the experiment I referenced before you comment on what you think they proved.

    “Physics is the only real science, everything else is stamp collecting”
    - Rutherford

    LT, I didn’t know you were a NAZI!?! :)

  22. @Barb

    By the look of your arguments for free will, I can see that it’s existence is mostly a matter of desire more than rational thinking.

    Another mistake you make when interpreting what I say:

    There is no gene for abusers. Again, you claim that one’s background is the be-all and end-all of one’s behavior.

    Are you doing anything right now because your genes tell you, or because you want to?

    I never said that genes are the ONLY thing that affects choice. I cleary stated that genes, social interactions, family background, cultural influences and other material backgrounds affect choices.

    I chose to start this discussion because I was curious about the validity of my own arguments and I thought UD was a good place to get some good answers because people here seem to know their craft pretty well (at least regarding ID). And I was curious because free will is something that I’ve been pondering about for years now. And I’ve been podering about free will for years because as years went by and I observed the world around me I started to see how people’s backgrounds affects people choices. And I did that because I’ve always been very curious about the world around me and people. And I’ve always been very curious because that’s normal for people with higher than average IQs (determined by genes) and thankfully my family encouraged my curiosity to be developed too, and we can trace my decision to make this posts back to my birth. My choices were determined from the start. I was bound to end up here.

    That doesn’t take away the possibility that the Designer put ID in my way on purpose because it knew I’d dive into it, but that can be right even if free will is false.

    Their choice is made, presumably, by their brains. They know that being abused is horrible and have chosen not to abuse others. If that is not free will, then what is it?

    That’s a very loose argument, because you imply that because people can choose, then free will exists. That doesn’t follow. I can as well say that choices are based on what we know and feel, and those things depend on our background, which makes far more sense because we can see this happening everywhere.

    “Correlation doesn’t imply causation” is used loosely by you just because I used the word in the first place. I could have said “background has an effect on choice” and what would you have said then?

    If you could make a research about all the teenagers that have ever been thiefs (as an example of a bad choice) and check those teenagers’ brackgrounds, you’d find that very few of them were good students from well-suported families, and you’d probably find that most of them have a reason to steal, probably because they lived in a poor background or simply had a very bad background.

    Here you have an effect: Becoming a thief. And you have a probable cause: Poor background. If free will exists, then how do you explain this pattern? How do you explain that most theifs have a background that happens to support the choice of becoming a thief? If free will was real, then we would find NO PATTERN in the backgrounds of people who made similar bad or good choices. However we DO. How do you extrapolate the existence of free will from that?

    Unless of course, you’re not inferring the existence of free will from rational observations, but from the Bible, in which case, so much for expecting a good case for free will from you.

    The fact that people choose to rise above their backgrounds in poverty or abuse is lost on you, isn’t it?

    Not at all, I just don’t attribute that decision to free will, but to the person’s background. Everyone’s life and backgrounds are unique and therefore all decisions and choices are unique because everyone makes choices according to their own unique incredible complex backgrounds. Everything has an effect on everything else.

    Everyone, believer or not, has choices to make with regards to behavior. And everyone is held accountable for their choices, good or bad. Actions (and ideas) have consequences.

    All you said was what you want to believe. I don’t see an argument for free will in there, only a wish.

  23. Proton writes:

    By the look of your arguments for free will, I can see that it’s existence is mostly a matter of desire more than rational thinking.

    How condescending of you.

    I never said that genes are the ONLY thing that affects choice. I cleary stated that genes, social interactions, family background, cultural influences and other material backgrounds affect choices.

    Yet you chose to focus on one’s background as being the primary cause for one’s behavior.

    And I did that because I’ve always been very curious about the world around me and people. And I’ve always been very curious because that’s normal for people with higher than average IQs (determined by genes) and thankfully my family encouraged my curiosity to be developed too, and we can trace my decision to make this posts back to my birth.

    You went from condescending to pretentious in about 15 seconds flat. My congratulations.

    Wow. You have a higher than average IQ. Aren’t you special?

    My choices were determined from the start. I was bound to end up here.

    So you are nothing more than a computer made of meat. You boot up your computer at home and you come here because your selfish genes compel you to.

    And which one of us has abandoned rational thinking again?

    That doesn’t take away the possibility that the Designer put ID in my way on purpose because it knew I’d dive into it, but that can be right even if free will is false.

    If you consider the possibility of a designer, you’re suggesting that it created human robots who are programmed to do certain things without conscious thought.

    Interesting concept. Totally false, but interesting.

    It flies in the face of the decisions people make every single day that involve rational thinking. Such as whether or not to continue debating online with someone who believes that he/she/it is better than everyone else because he/she/it has a higher than average IQ.

    That’s a very loose argument, because you imply that because people can choose, then free will exists. That doesn’t follow.

    Yes, that is exactly how free will works. I can choose whether or not to eat at McDonald’s today. I can choose whether or not to accept Christianity as being true. I can choose whether or not to read through the posts at UD. That is free will.

    That you don’t understand a relatively simple concept makes me question your higher than average IQ.

    I can as well say that choices are based on what we know and feel, and those things depend on our background, which makes far more sense because we can see this happening everywhere.

    Our choices can also be made on the basis of instruction. I can choose not to eat at McDonald’s because I’ve learned that fast food isn’t healthy. This is possible even if my parents took me there all the time during my childhood.

    “Correlation doesn’t imply causation” is used loosely by you just because I used the word in the first place. I could have said “background has an effect on choice” and what would you have said then?

    It does have some effect, but you clearly implied that one’s background is the primary reason behind people’s behavior, which is false.

    If you could make a research about all the teenagers that have ever been thiefs (as an example of a bad choice) and check those teenagers’ brackgrounds, you’d find that very few of them were good students from well-suported families, and you’d probably find that most of them have a reason to steal, probably because they lived in a poor background or simply had a very bad background.

    You’d also have to define the word “thief”. Do you really believe that wealthy people do not steal? Wall Street? Ponzi schemes? Bernie Madoff? Any of this ringing a bell for you?

    I don’t dispute that people living in poverty might rationalize stealing as a way of life. It doesn’t make stealing right, but I could understand their perspective.

    Here you have an effect: Becoming a thief. And you have a probable cause: Poor background. If free will exists, then how do you explain this pattern?

    How do you explain Bernie Madoff?

    Free will exists because these people made a choice to steal. You are conveniently ignoring the other poor people who chose to live honest lives. Do they not have free will also?

    How do you explain that most theifs have a background that happens to support the choice of becoming a thief? If free will was real, then we would find NO PATTERN in the backgrounds of people who made similar bad or good choices. However we DO. How do you extrapolate the existence of free will from that?

    Free will exists because people make choices: to steal or not to steal. You’d still have to explain the poor people who don’t steal for your theory to be valid.

    Unless of course, you’re not inferring the existence of free will from rational observations, but from the Bible, in which case, so much for expecting a good case for free will from you.

    Bless your heart.

    Not at all, I just don’t attribute that decision to free will, but to the person’s background. Everyone’s life and backgrounds are unique and therefore all decisions and choices are unique because everyone makes choices according to their own unique incredible complex backgrounds. Everything has an effect on everything else.

    You are continuing to confuse correlation with causation. Everyone makes choices because everyone has free will to do so. You completely miss the point. Their background is only one factor in decision making.

    All you said was what you want to believe. I don’t see an argument for free will in there, only a wish.

    I don’t see an argument from you either, just extremely tortured logic surrounded by arrogance. Please try again.

  24. Wow:

    You went from condescending to pretentious in about 15 seconds flat. My congratulations.

    I didn’t mean to be pretentious. The only reason I broght up my IQ is because 1) I don’t think it’s really important at all in defining someone’s value, if I thought a better IQ makes me better, I wouldn’t have used it, and 2) Because is a good cause for curiosity, which was what I was trying to explain. I honestly don’t see any value on a higher IQ whatsoever.

    I said “I never said that genes are the ONLY thing that affects choice. ” And you said:

    Yet you chose to focus on one’s background as being the primary cause for one’s behavior.

    Which leads to me think you’re confusing background = genes? Again, when I talk about the background, I refer to all these things together working at once: genes, early social interactions, family, personality traits, health conditions, culture, and so on. I thought I had made that clear, why are you trying to reduce it to genes? Is it easier to you?

    So you are nothing more than a computer made of meat.

    I think an atheist would think that, but as a theist it’s impossible to believe something like that. Computers are not conscious. Humans are.

    If you consider the possibility of a designer, you’re suggesting that it created human robots who are programmed to do certain things without conscious thought.

    That’s a VERY incomplete picture. You probably meant “robots without a purpose”. But I don’t think that at all. Also, if a robot is an unconscious automaton, then it’s no different from a rock. As I can tell, I’m conscious.

    It flies in the face of the decisions people make every single day that involve rational thinking.

    I know that. What I don’t understand is why you confuse rationality = free will. Rationality comes from the logic of the left hemisphere of our brain, and therefore rationality-based decisions come from our brain as well. The reason you want to think rational decisions come from someplace else is because you the Bible tells you it does.

    You’d also have to define the word “thief”

    Come on, I said “teenage thief” exactly to leave confusion aside. Adult theifs come in all ranges, but “wealthy teenage thiefs”? It’s obvious I was referring to those young thiefs from dark backgrounds. Why complicate it?

    I don’t dispute that people living in poverty might rationalize stealing as a way of life. It doesn’t make stealing right, but I could understand their perspective.

    Their background is only one factor in decision making.

    You mean you admit that a people’s backgrounds DO affect their decisions… BUT where do you draw the line? Where do “background based decisions” end and “free will” starts?

    In fact, since backgrounds DO affect decisions, why not go all the way and admit that the background is actually the ONLY think that affects decisions?

    What I continue to see is a forced attempt to put free will into the equation without any rational reason for it other than “because the Bible says so”.

  25. Proton writes,

    I didn’t mean to be pretentious. The only reason I brought up my IQ is because 1) I don’t think it’s really important at all in defining someone’s value, if I thought a better IQ makes me better, I wouldn’t have used it, and 2) Because is a good cause for curiosity, which was what I was trying to explain. I honestly don’t see any value on a higher IQ whatsoever.

    Another good cause for curiosity is the desire to gain knowledge. You don’t necessarily have to have a higher than average IQ to be curious or to want to learn more.

    Which leads to me think you’re confusing background = genes? Again, when I talk about the background, I refer to all these things together working at once: genes, early social interactions, family, personality traits, health conditions, culture, and so on. I thought I had made that clear, why are you trying to reduce it to genes? Is it easier to you?

    A person’s background consists more of their early social interactions and environment as well as their culture than anything else. I don’t think genes play an important role in determining free will or any other behavior, for that matter. Researchers have been looking for genes for nearly everything for years now (alcoholism, violence, etc.) and have come up empty.

    I think an atheist would think that, but as a theist it’s impossible to believe something like that. Computers are not conscious. Humans are.

    If you are a theist, you believe in God. If you believe in God, why are you so adamant that free will doesn’t exist

    That’s a VERY incomplete picture. You probably meant “robots without a purpose”. But I don’t think that at all. Also, if a robot is an unconscious automaton, then it’s no different from a rock. As I can tell, I’m conscious.

    Robots do not create purposes for themselves; they only follow what’s been programmed into them. Yet that seemed to be the point you were making. You state that you are conscious (“I think, therefore I am”) but if you are conscious of yourself and your surroundings, how is it that you do not realize that you have (and make) choices each day—and that making choices is consistent with free will?

    I know that. What I don’t understand is why you confuse rationality = free will. Rationality comes from the logic of the left hemisphere of our brain, and therefore rationality-based decisions come from our brain as well. The reason you want to think rational decisions come from someplace else is because you the Bible tells you it does.

    Have I once used a Bible scripture to prove a point in this discussion? No? Okay then. You’re mistaken. Rational decisions come from our brain. I agree with this. Rational decision-making involves free will. You disagree with this.

    Come on, I said “teenage thief” exactly to leave confusion aside. Adult theifs come in all ranges, but “wealthy teenage thiefs”? It’s obvious I was referring to those young thiefs from dark backgrounds. Why complicate it?

    Because you are conveniently leaving out examples of people exercising their free will. This goes against your line of thinking. There are teenagers in ghettoes right now who are honest and hard-working individuals. They might have what you describe as “dark backgrounds” but they actively chose to rise above them. This evidence flies in the face of your assertion that free will does not exist.

    You mean you admit that a people’s backgrounds DO affect their decisions… BUT where do you draw the line? Where do “background based decisions” end and “free will” starts?

    Free will exists whenever we chose to behave one way (good) or the other (bad). This is in contrast to determinism, which some religions teach. Theological determinism states that a deity has planned out everyone’s life in advance; I don’t believe in this concept at all. One can choose to become a thief, or one can choose to live an honest life.

    In fact, since backgrounds DO affect decisions, why not go all the way and admit that the background is actually the ONLY think that affects decisions?

    Because that is faulty logic; correlation does not equal causation. This has been explained before. An example is Michael Vick, who spent time in prison for dogfighting. As I understand his case, his cultural upbringing involved dogfighting, and this was a normal pastime. He chose to participate in dogfighting despite the fact that it is illegal in the United States. He knew that it was illegal, and could have chosen not to participate.
    You completely ignore the influence education has on decision-making. Why is this? A person with a “dark background” might hear a teacher speak of how college helped him to focus on a particular subject. What if the person choose to go to college based on what the teacher states? That is free will in action; background is irrelevant.

    What I continue to see is a forced attempt to put free will into the equation without any rational reason for it other than “because the Bible says so”.

    Again, I have yet to use one Bible scripture to make any point. You are mistaken.

  26. @Barb

    I’m starting to think that the problem here is the different meaning we give to the same words or concepts, which is messing everything up.

    I have yet to use one Bible scripture to make any point

    I’m saying “you think free will exist only because the Bible says so” because I’m yet to find any argument from you that looks like it’s based only on observation of the world, and so I must conclude that the Bible is biasing you.

    One of the main things popping up often in your arguments is the idea that because we’re conscious, and we make rational decisions, then free will exists, and determinism is false. That seems to be the main argument from you, and I disagree with that, but let’s see if we’re referring to the same thing.

    Rational decisions come from our brain. I agree with this. Rational decision-making involves free will. You disagree with this.

    I don’t get it. You say that choices come from our brain. Our MATERIAL brain? If you’re talking about the material brain, then how can free will come from a deterministic system?

    Free will exists whenever we chose to behave one way (good) or the other (bad).

    So free will only “kicks in” when we are faced with the choice of doing either good or bad (both as defined in the Bible), but it’s absent when we decide to do things that are outside of the clasification of good/bad (like choosing to pick something from the fridge)?

    So while we’re doing things that have no inherent moral value our material-only brain is doing it’s materialistic determinist processes like it should but when a moral choice appears we’re “switched” to some sort of non-material brain that has the ability of free will? And God only judges us when we’re on this secondary non-material state of consciousness?

    Is this right or am I missing something? It sounds too convenient, and too forced.

    Since you’ve been leaving some of your opinions on the matter even if they didn’t help the argument, I’ll leave my opinion too, just so you see what I think:

    I don’t think that our Designer would give life to intelligent beings (that didn’t ask for this life) and then give them the ability to send themselves to eternal suffering. That sounds preposterous to me and something so evil that I find extremely hard to believe that a Creator that took so much work fine-tuning all the material reality for life to exist, from physics to biology, would do so. Why create an innocent living creature and give it a 50-50 chance of eternal suffering? I find this a common sense conclusion that anyone not biased by the Bible would reach by themselves.

    And that’s just a based on nothing but my personal view of how a Creator would/should behave regarding it’s creation. And it happens that that “emotional” view matches my own rational conclusion based on observation of the world, which is that people’s backgrounds have a inescapable effect on their decisions.

    I also think that belief in free will (regardless of the existence of it) comes with an inherent capacity for evil particular to Christians, but that’s another topic.

  27. I’m starting to think that the problem here is the different meaning we give to the same words or concepts, which is messing everything up.

    That’s possible. For clarity’s sake, here is my definition of free will: freedom of choice. This is not absolute freedom because we are bound by physical and moral laws. We are also held accountable for our actions.

    I’m saying “you think free will exist only because the Bible says so” because I’m yet to find any argument from you that looks like it’s based only on observation of the world, and so I must conclude that the Bible is biasing you.

    Did you notice any examples I gave you, like the one of Michael Vick in my previous post? How is that Bible-based and not based on real-world observation?

    One of the main things popping up often in your arguments is the idea that because we’re conscious, and we make rational decisions, then free will exists, and determinism is false. That seems to be the main argument from you, and I disagree with that, but let’s see if we’re referring to the same thing.

    Okay.

    I don’t get it. You say that choices come from our brain. Our MATERIAL brain? If you’re talking about the material brain, then how can free will come from a deterministic system?

    I state that our choices come from our brain because I view the entire person as being a soul, not that we have an immaterial soul from which our choices come. We can choose to express qualities such as justice, love, or wisdom, or we can choose not to. That is free will.

    So free will only “kicks in” when we are faced with the choice of doing either good or bad (both as defined in the Bible), but it’s absent when we decide to do things that are outside of the clasification of good/bad (like choosing to pick something from the fridge)?

    No, free will is freedom of choice. I explained this in a a previous post where I used the example of choosing whether or not to go to McDonald’s for lunch. You really should start reading what I post.

    So while we’re doing things that have no inherent moral value our material-only brain is doing it’s materialistic determinist processes like it should but when a moral choice appears we’re “switched” to some sort of non-material brain that has the ability of free will? And God only judges us when we’re on this secondary non-material state of consciousness?

    No. Again, my concept of free will is freedom of choice, which includes all choices and not just moral decisions.

    Is this right or am I missing something? It sounds too convenient, and too forced.

    I’m not sure what you mean by forced. We are conscious humans, we are not preprogrammed robots.

    Let me give you another example, a religious one, from a publication in the 1980s. The Jewish Conservative community in the United States published a “Statement of Principles of Conservative Judaism,” in which they stated: “The existence of evil has always provided the most serious impediment to faith. Given the enormity of the horror represented by Auschwitz and Hiroshima, this dilemma has taken on a new, terrifying reality in our generation. The question of how a just and powerful God could allow the annihilation of so many innocent lives haunts the religious conscience and staggers the imagination.”

    The aforementioned Jewish publication gives a partial answer to the question, saying: “By creating human beings with free will, God, of necessity, limited His own future range of action. Without the real possibility of people making the wrong choice when confronted by good and evil, the entire concept of choice is meaningless. Endowing humankind with free will can be seen as an act of divine love which allows for our own integrity and growth, even if our decisions can also bring about great sorrow.”

    I don’t think that our Designer would give life to intelligent beings (that didn’t ask for this life) and then give them the ability to send themselves to eternal suffering. That sounds preposterous to me and something so evil that I find extremely hard to believe that a Creator that took so much work fine-tuning all the material reality for life to exist, from physics to biology, would do so. Why create an innocent living creature and give it a 50-50 chance of eternal suffering? I find this a common sense conclusion that anyone not biased by the Bible would reach by themselves.

    I should also explain that I don’t believe in the concept of “eternal suffering” as you put it. I am assuming that you mean hellfire. My religion does not teach that this concept is biblical. I believe that our Designer created us with the ability to choose for ourselves how our lives would go, and gave us the capacity to reflect compassion, love, justice, and wisdom. The Bible makes it clear that death is the end of consciousness (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

    And that’s just a based on nothing but my personal view of how a Creator would/should behave regarding it’s creation. And it happens that that “emotional” view matches my own rational conclusion based on observation of the world, which is that people’s backgrounds have a inescapable effect on their decisions.

    I don’t dispute that a person’s background (which includes genetics and social environment) can have a big influence on people, but you are still ignoring the fact that people can and do choose to rise above a bad background to live happy lives. Positive parental examples help children to flourish, but even bad parental examples do not preclude a person’s flourishing once he leaves home.
    Believe it or not, there are biblical examples of this. Hezekiah is one. Read 2 Kings 8:1-7 sometime. Hezekiah’s father Ahaz practiced human sacrifice. Hezekiah, however, began a program of spiritual reform that helped the nation. The Bible doesn’t explicitly say who influenced Hezekiah to do this, but the point remains: his course of life was markedly different from his father’s. His background was not his destiny.
    I mentioned this in another post, but what about education? Do you think that teachers have any influence over kids who come from bad backgrounds? Jamie Escalante comes to mind (ever seen the movie “Stand By Me”). Or the teacher from “Freedom Writers” (never saw the movie, but read the book). These are kids from very bad backgrounds who deliberately choose not to follow the example of their parents or their peers.

    I also think that belief in free will (regardless of the existence of it) comes with an inherent capacity for evil particular to Christians, but that’s another topic.

    I used to watch the show “Lost” (before it became too confusing) and, at one point, John Locke tells Walter “you can be light or you can be dark”. He was referring to a game of chess, but there’s a double meaning there as well. I don’t think that the capacity for evil is particular to Christians, although they acknowledge it . Believers and nonbelievers alike are capable of evil.

  28. I see we’re getting somewhere here, and I’ll focus on this thing below because it affects everything else.

    You say:

    you are still ignoring the fact that people can and do choose to rise above a bad background to live happy lives

    Actually the one ignoring stuff is you. You’re ignoring OTHER elements of someone’s past that could affect a decision. It’s easy to say “background is not the only thing that affects choices”, but that would be underestimating how infinitely complex someone’s background can be and it’s power to have an irreversible effect on someone’s future choices.

    You’re claiming that people overcoming bad backgrounds proves free will exists, but not one single background equals another and there is a huge array of other extra elements present in every background that could have ended up having an effect on someone’s choice to escape such background, elements that you ignore and which effect on choices you attribute to free will.

    I guess that all of this discussion revolves around of something that I’d like to call “the lazyness of the Christian”. What I mean by this is that the big difference I find between Christians and non-Christians is WHERE the thinking process stops when going backwards while trying to find the source of a choice.

    A non-Christian believes that we can trace back the origin of a choice to as far as material causes can be found that could have an effect on that choice. This includes possible material interventions from a Creator, for example a specific event to triggers some decision.

    This means that a non-Christian believes that if we could be given the power to look at someone’s past and physiology in detail we would find, 100% of the time, that every single choice that person has ever made has a source on the person’s background, which depends on a vast and entremely complex array of variables acting simultaneously to produce that single choice, which includes:

    1) genes (personality traits, sexual orientation, underlaying health conditions, etc)

    2) family (who are the parents, are the parents adecuate for raising a child, who are the other close people involved in the development of the child, does the child have brothers and or sisters, was the child shown love and care or lack there of, what were the parents jobs, etc)

    3) money (was the child from a wealthy family, poor family, or anything in between? What is the childs personal relationship with money?)

    4) early social interactions (who were the child’s first friends, how was the first school he/she went to, did the child have to change school and friends often, etc)

    5) culture (what are the social habits of people in the place the child grew up and what family values are given most importance)

    6) religion (what is the religion of the parents, what religion was the child taught, was the child taught any religion at all, etc)

    7) EVENTS (did a traumatic event happened to the child, did something made him develop a healthy or unhealthy relationship with brothers and sisters, did something embarrasing happened when he/she young that affected the way he/she feels when meeting new people, etc etc, this “events” part is huge on itself)

    8) mental health (did the child have appropiate diet on his/her early years with all the nutrients he/she needed to develop a healthy brain and intelligence?)

    9) And probably many other things, this is just a raw list of what could constitute a background and by no means an all-inclusive list.

    So if a non-Christian gets asked to investigate the origin of a choice, she will look a the history of the person under investigation back in time from the exact moment that the choice was made, and would study all the things listed above (plus any other relevant thing I might have missed), simple because anything that’s part of someone’s life has an effect on that person’s personality, intelligence, and ability to make choices.

    As a non-Christian, I have no doubt that whatever choice any person makes, it can be traced back to the history of that person in full.

    And here lies the difference, and the reason I call it “lazyness” : A Christian wouldn’t attempt to find the source of a choice, she would stop almost instantly and assume free will did it. However that’s LAZY, because it ignores that person’s past and everything that made that person be who he/she is. Christians don’t care about the obscure and infinitely complex background and past of a person with it’s million variables all acting together to determine the person as he/she is right now, they just prefer to close their eyes to that and invoke free will as the explanation, and hence have an excuse to find a reason to blame that person for what he/she did and feel no remorse for wishing someone to be punished.

    I wonder if Christians put their loved ones in a special position… when a loved one makes a bad decision, do Christians try to convince themselves that some exterior cause affected their ability to make a choice and so pray God not to punish them? I would be inclined to think they do because it’s human nature to try to protect the ones we care about over the others, but it would make Christians hypocrites, because they would be believing that free will was “impaired” when their loved ones made the choice and so they shouldn’t be blamed, however they probably have no problem in blaming other people they don’t care about and attributing free will to them so that THEY can be blamed. I have a feeling that this is very true, and as a non-Christian I don’t blame them, but it makes them hypocrites and it should cast doubt on the validity behind the idea of “free will”.

    Looking forward for your thoughts on this.

  29. As a summary to my post above, I think that when you’re attributing a choice to free will you’re actually ignoring elements from yourself and your entire life that had an effect on that choice, but elements that are invisible to you because they’re infinitely many, all acting together to produce that choice, and discovering and defining each of them is impossible, which produces a “gap” in your mind when trying to find the source of a choice, a gap you attribute to free will.

    Is our inability to find the conections between the vast number of elements involved in a choice (elements from a even larger pool of what constitues our background) what makes the source of a choice almost invisible to us, and therefore makes free will appear as true, when actually choices have a material cause that appears to be invisible or divine.

  30. Actually the one ignoring stuff is you. You’re ignoring OTHER elements of someone’s past that could affect a decision. It’s easy to say “background is not the only thing that affects choices”, but that would be underestimating how infinitely complex someone’s background can be and it’s power to have an irreversible effect on someone’s future choices.

    There are few things that are truly irreversible in one’s life. A birth defect would be one example. Growing up in a dysfunctional family, however, is not irreversible.

    You’re claiming that people overcoming bad backgrounds proves free will exists, but not one single background equals another and there is a huge array of other extra elements present in every background that could have ended up having an effect on someone’s choice to escape such background, elements that you ignore and which effect on choices you attribute to free will.

    As I pointed out before, free will (to me) is freedom of choice. Everyone is free to make choices every single day: what to eat, what to wear, whether or not to lie to someone else, etc.

    I guess that all of this discussion revolves around of something that I’d like to call “the lazyness of the Christian”. What I mean by this is that the big difference I find between Christians and non-Christians is WHERE the thinking process stops when going backwards while trying to find the source of a choice.

    The thinking process generally stops with the person making the choice.

    A non-Christian believes that we can trace back the origin of a choice to as far as material causes can be found that could have an effect on that choice. This includes possible material interventions from a Creator, for example a specific event to triggers some decision.
    This means that a non-Christian believes that if we could be given the power to look at someone’s past and physiology in detail we would find, 100% of the time, that every single choice that person has ever made has a source on the person’s background, which depends on a vast and entremely complex array of variables acting simultaneously to produce that single choice, which includes:

    So you’re continuing to ignore the education factor.

    1) genes (personality traits, sexual orientation, underlaying health conditions, etc)

    Genes tell us how tall we are and whether or not we have blue or brown eyes. I’ve yet to see any evidence of genes that contribute to alcoholism or promiscuous behavior. This is a non-entity as far as free will is concerned, unless you want to bring up the Christian perspective of imperfection.

    2) family (who are the parents, are the parents adecuate for raising a child, who are the other close people involved in the development of the child, does the child have brothers and or sisters, was the child shown love and care or lack there of, what were the parents jobs, etc)

    Family can be a defining factor in how a person lives their life; however, it is also possible for a child to overcome a bad home life and become a better person. I proved this point with my example of Hezekiah in my previous post.
    I think that whether or not a child is shown love from an early age has the greatest potential to determine what the child’s future life will be like.

    3) money (was the child from a wealthy family, poor family, or anything in between? What is the childs personal relationship with money?)

    The child’s personal relationship with money can be changed. You can grow up with parents who were irresponsible with money and yet be able to balance a checkbook.

    4) early social interactions (who were the child’s first friends, how was the first school he/she went to, did the child have to change school and friends often, etc)

    I think that the only time this would be relevant is if the child were bullied in school, which is becoming a large problem today.

    5) culture (what are the social habits of people in the place the child grew up and what family values are given most importance)
    6) religion (what is the religion of the parents, what religion was the child taught, was the child taught any religion at all, etc)
    7) EVENTS (did a traumatic event happened to the child, did something made him develop a healthy or unhealthy relationship with brothers and sisters, did something embarrasing happened when he/she young that affected the way he/she feels when meeting new people, etc etc, this “events” part is huge on itself)
    8) mental health (did the child have appropiate diet on his/her early years with all the nutrients he/she needed to develop a healthy brain and intelligence?)
    9) And probably many other things, this is just a raw list of what could constitute a background and by no means an all-inclusive list.

    Traumatic events can be defining but not necessarily. Culture would probably be the second in importance in this list.

    So if a non-Christian gets asked to investigate the origin of a choice, she will look a the history of the person under investigation back in time from the exact moment that the choice was made, and would study all the things listed above (plus any other relevant thing I might have missed), simple because anything that’s part of someone’s life has an effect on that person’s personality, intelligence, and ability to make choices.

    Why do you make the false assumption that a non-Christian is not lazy but a Christian is? Do you really think that Christians would ignore all aspects of a person’s background? If so, you need to get out more and meet some Christians.

    As a non-Christian, I have no doubt that whatever choice any person makes, it can be traced back to the history of that person in full.
    And here lies the difference, and the reason I call it “lazyness” : A Christian wouldn’t attempt to find the source of a choice, she would stop almost instantly and assume free will did it. However that’s LAZY, because it ignores that person’s past and everything that made that person be who he/she is. Christians don’t care about the obscure and infinitely complex background and past of a person with it’s million variables all acting together to determine the person as he/she is right now, they just prefer to close their eyes to that and invoke free will as the explanation, and hence have an excuse to find a reason to blame that person for what he/she did and feel no remorse for wishing someone to be punished.

    You assume (wrongly) that Christians are lazy.
    You assume (wrongly) that Christians blame individuals for what they do. It depends on what their actions are; a thief is presumably aware that what he is doing is wrong. A Christian might encourage him to “steal no more” but to live an honest life. Remember, Christians believe that all people are imperfect and in need of salvation. A person can choose to modify his or her behavior; this is free will.
    You also assume (wrongly) that Christians wish for people to be punished. Only if they’ve committed a serious crime.
    Your entire basis for belief in the lack of free will rests on wrong assumptions and logical fallacies.

    I wonder if Christians put their loved ones in a special position… when a loved one makes a bad decision, do Christians try to convince themselves that some exterior cause affected their ability to make a choice and so pray God not to punish them?

    No. “Whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap.” The Book of Galatians. Every individual is responsible for his or her own actions.

    I would be inclined to think they do because it’s human nature to try to protect the ones we care about over the others, but it would make Christians hypocrites, because they would be believing that free will was “impaired” when their loved ones made the choice and so they shouldn’t be blamed, however they probably have no problem in blaming other people they don’t care about and attributing free will to them so that THEY can be blamed. I have a feeling that this is very true, and as a non-Christian I don’t blame them, but it makes them hypocrites and it should cast doubt on the validity behind the idea of “free will”.

    It doesn’t cast doubt on anything, only on the spurious logic you used to come to such a position.
    Christians obviously want people they love to do the right thing, but that doesn’t always happen. As noted above, Christians are well aware that everyone is responsible for his or her own actions. As much as we might want to stop them or help them, it isn’t always possible. That’s what free will is: the ability to make choices, whether good or bad. What is also important to remember is that we aren’t isolated; whatever decisions we make do affect others, including our family and friends.

  31. Every comment you make just helps to solidify the idea that Christians are in fact deluded. I’m going to save this long thread of comments for future reference, because the things I read here are really something.

    Most of your counter arguments are obviously question-begging, and I’m surprised that an ID can fall pray of following such arguments, but at the same time I’m not surprised that such arguments come from a Christian, who you’re helping me confirm, are deluded in favor of religion putting in second place the observation of the world.

    If you keep putting the Bible as a filter to everything you observe about the world, you’ll never see what how world actually is. Just like materialists are wrong in interpreting the world according to only the naturalistic filter, even if the world is in fact material in great sense, so are Christians wrong in interpreting the world through a religious filter, especially because we can’t know if the Designer is God.

    You’re failing to see the flaw in your own reasoning. Take this example:

    A = Bible is true.
    B = Free will is real.

    You’re doing this:

    Assume A is true >> Interpret observation according to A >> >> Filtered observation matches A >> Therefore B is true.

    Such reasoning will always match your religious filter because the religious filter is part of the reasoning. You see what you choose to see, instead of what is really going on.

    It should be like this:

    Unfiltered Observation >> Conclusion >> Does the conclusion support B?

    I know that I’d be expecting way too much of a Christian if I were to ask them to silence their bias and religious filter at least for a moment to observe the world as it is, but that’s exactly the point, it’s hard to silence a belief you’ve been holding to your entire life because it’s already filtering everything your perceive about the world.

    That’s why I’m confortable saying something like “Christians are deluded”, because even if it sounds a bit strong, the truth is I’m not biased for any religion, I don’t have any established religious filter conditioning or bending my observations to fit a personal worldview. I just observe, and then conclude. If I have a filter bending my observations, then it’s source is observation itself, which in any case has little to no bias, unlike a religious filter, which splatters a bias contamination all over rational reasoning.

    If you respond to this by saying the one with a contaminated reasoning is me, I’d like you to tell me the source of the contamination. In your case, it’s easy: Religious text.

    Now to the specifics:

    So you’re continuing to ignore the education factor.

    I see no particular relevance in education, because every waking moment of our lives we’re receiving information from the world around us and storing that on our brain. We’re learning all the time just by having our eyes open. If you’re putting education, and specifically, moral values imposed by education, as a separate variable, then that’s based on your preconceived notion that morality has a special place in counciosness, which is based on your religious filter. Again, you’re falling prey of circular reasoning. You’re implying something is true using a premise that is the result of a religiously filtered reasoning. Such reasoning will always render true to you of course! But what happens if you remove the religious filter you have so stuck to your reasoning and see morality like any other brain function that is affected by our background?

    The thinking process generally stops with the person making the choice.

    You state your opinion as fact. You forgot to add: “I believe so because I want free will to be real”.

    It is also possible for a child to overcome a bad home life and become a better person. I proved this point with my example of Hezekiah in my previous post.

    I would have preferred you had used an example that wasn’t in the Bible, simply because I don’t know if this Hezekiah was a regular person like you and me. But let’s pretend he was a normal person like anyone you meet on the street, lets see:

    Hezekiah’s father Ahaz practiced human sacrifice. Hezekiah, however, began a program of spiritual reform that helped the nation. The Bible doesn’t explicitly say who influenced Hezekiah to do this, but the point remains: his course of life was markedly different from his father’s. His background was not his destiny.

    No, the point “doesn’t remain”. It’s easy to see why your reasoning is flawed. Turning around a bad background means nothing for free will, because people can choose a path different from their parents simply because they’ve grown to not like or even despise such path. In any case, this feeling towards a particular path (following it or moving away from it) can be the result of previous experiences, NOT free will. Hezekiah might have had certain experiences with his father background that led him to reject it purely on the combination of an undefined number of elements from his past. What you’re doing is ignoring the effect of this elements from his past and attributing the decision to free will. Why? Because in your mind:

    I assume free will is real >> This means choices are the result of free will >> Hezekiah made a choice >> Therefore free will is real.

    It’s circular reasoning.

    Below another problem of your faulty logic.

    I’ve yet to see any evidence of genes that contribute to alcoholism or promiscuous behavior

    This is a complete misundertanding of what genes can and can’t do. You’re putting everything that could be a “background” in the same bag. Genes don’t decide if someone becomes an alcoholic or promiscuos (as far as I can tell), but an unhappy childhood due to bad parenting (or any other negative background elements) can produce such behaviour. You’re falsely implying that background = genes, and ignoring (perhaps deliberately to fit your worldview) the other vast number of elements of someone’s background.

    Traumatic events can be defining

    You’re admitting (again) that SOME things DO in fact affect choices in an unescapable way (that’s what defining means), and therefore admit that free will is sometimes out of the equation. The fact you don’t accept that EVERYTHING (and not just some things) have an effect on free will just shows your constant attempts to escape what otherwise makes sense rationally, but something you don’t accept because it doesn’t match your worldview. Another example of this below:

    I think that the only time this (“early social interactions”) would be relevant is if the child were bullied in school

    This just speaks of your repetitive attempt to MINIMIZE someone’s background and ignore the details attributing their effects to free will, when it’s the details the ones that define who we are. You can’t just consider “some part” of someone’s past (just that part that might fit with your idea of free will) and ignore the rest conveniently. You must consider ALL of someone’s past. That of course, if you’re being unbiased. Are you?

    …which is becoming a large problem today.

    I don’t know why you bring that up, we’re not discussing problems in US school enviroments.

    a thief is presumably aware that what he is doing is wrong

    You mean that you think that sometimes a thief might now be aware of how bad stealing is? In that case, was free will taken out of the equation?

    I wonder how many times in your observation of the world you see free will being impared by external causes… I have a feeling that, if you sit and watch closely, ALL of the free will you see in the world might not actually be free will at all!

    You also assume (wrongly) that Christians wish for people to be punished. Only if they’ve committed a serious crime.

    That’s the difference. I don’t think someone should be “punished” for commiting a crime just because they deserve it. I might choose punishment only if it helps to accomplish one of these two things:
    1-It prevents the person from commiting a crime again.
    2-It prevents other people from commiting a crime, due to fear of receving the same punishment.

    Both things above make punishment a tool for making societies better, but not a tool for divine vengeance.

    Of course I’m referring to punishment inflicted by humans. I don’t believe in divine punishment at all. I’m a simple human being and even I can forgive anyone for commiting a crime. I might think that punishment is necessary IF it helps make societies (and human life) better, but I’d never (rationally) choose to punish someone because they “deserve” it (emotions can make an angry person desire punishment for another person if that peron hurt them, but only religiously motivated people can rationally desire punishment of another human being only because they believe that person deserves it). For non-religious people, the word “deserve” doesn’t have a real meaning because it’s purely subjective.

    What is also important to remember is that we aren’t isolated; whatever decisions we make do affect others, including our family and friends.

    Again your own logic at fail here. If by “affecting others” you mean that our decisions can be considered as an external factor that might affect someone else’s decisions, then YOU are implying that no one has free will because we’re constantly affected by the decisions of others, starting from our leaders, to our bosses, to our coworkers, to people on the streets, to our friends and to our family members, and of course, the combination of the decisions of all those people. Oh and also that person who bumped at you on the street the other day and didn’t choose to apologize because he was having a bad day.

    Now, if you want to counter this argument by saying that “affecting others” does NOT mean “affecting their decisions”, then you have a problem. If you affect someone, but not their decisions (leaving aside how crazy that sounds), then you’re affecting their enviroment. If you affect their enviroment, you’re affecting how the feel. If you affect how they feel, then you affect the way they rationalize things. If the way they rationalize things changes, their decisions will also change, and so free will is false. If you now say that “affecting their enviroment” doesn’t affect the way people feel (and therefore how they rationalize things), then feelings have no meaning because they can’t affect free will. Is that what you believe?

    You see that the entire logic behind free will is a BIG question-begging position? It only makes sense if you bend and twist and maneuver around your observations to fit it, and even then it begs the question big time.

  32. Proton:

    Every comment you make just helps to solidify the idea that Christians are in fact deluded. I’m going to save this long thread of comments for future reference, because the things I read here are really something.

    Christians are most assuredly not deluded, despite what your above-average intelligence might tell you. Your tone is insulting, to say the least.

    Most of your counter arguments are obviously question-begging, and I’m surprised that an ID can fall pray of following such arguments, but at the same time I’m not surprised that such arguments come from a Christian, who you’re helping me confirm, are deluded in favor of religion putting in second place the observation of the world.

    And yet I gave you real world examples which had nothing to do with religion (Michael Vick). Are you honestly even reading what I write, or are you simply falling victim again to faulty logic that states that anything that contravenes your preconceived notions (Christians are deluded) must be wrong?

    If you keep putting the Bible as a filter to everything you observe about the world, you’ll never see what how world actually is.

    I’m having a hard time not laughing at this response. The Bible is scarily accurate when describing the behavior of humans (see 1 Timothy 3:1-5, for example). I do the see the world as it is. You apparently see whatever you wish to see and ignore everything else. That is delusion.

    Just like materialists are wrong in interpreting the world according to only the naturalistic filter, even if the world is in fact material in great sense, so are Christians wrong in interpreting the world through a religious filter, especially because we can’t know if the Designer is God.

    ID makes no claim of who or what the Designer is, but Christianity does. I believe in following the evidence, which led me to Christianity. I can see that you haven’t done so, and it’s highly arrogant of you to presume to be right and 1 billion people be wrong. Particularly when you haven’t provided one shred of proof of your point: that free will doesn’t exist.

    You’re failing to see the flaw in your own reasoning. Take this example:
    A = Bible is true.
    B = Free will is real.
    You’re doing this:
    Assume A is true >> Interpret observation according to A >> >> Filtered observation matches A >> Therefore B is true.

    You could be said to be doing the same thing:
    A = Bible is untrue
    B = free will is nonexistent
    You are seeing everything through the lens of non-theism. You are blinded by your own biases and yet you feel the need to correct others?

    Such reasoning will always match your religious filter because the religious filter is part of the reasoning. You see what you choose to see, instead of what is really going on.
    It should be like this:
    Unfiltered Observation >> Conclusion >> Does the conclusion support B?

    And yet you are filtering everything through a lens that states that Christians are deluded. Yet you fail to see that your logic is flawed as well. Ironic, isn’t it?

    I know that I’d be expecting way too much of a Christian if I were to ask them to silence their bias and religious filter at least for a moment to observe the world as it is, but that’s exactly the point, it’s hard to silence a belief you’ve been holding to your entire life because it’s already filtering everything your perceive about the world.

    Your condescending tone is noted and ignored.

    That’s why I’m confortable saying something like “Christians are deluded”, because even if it sounds a bit strong, the truth is I’m not biased for any religion, I don’t have any established religious filter conditioning or bending my observations to fit a personal worldview. I just observe, and then conclude.

    No, you observe everything through the filter that states “Christians are deluded”. Your patronizing, illogical arguments fail to convince me of anything, except the fact that you suffer from unwarranted self-importance.

    If I have a filter bending my observations, then it’s source is observation itself, which in any case has little to no bias, unlike a religious filter, which splatters a bias contamination all over rational reasoning.

    Atheism isn’t biased? Please.

    If you respond to this by saying the one with a contaminated reasoning is me, I’d like you to tell me the source of the contamination. In your case, it’s easy: Religious text.

    In your case, it’s atheism.

    I see no particular relevance in education, because every waking moment of our lives we’re receiving information from the world around us and storing that on our brain.

    In other words, you choose to ignore an important, defining aspect of a person’s life, one that can directly influence how their life turns out. That is willful ignorance at its finest.

    We’re learning all the time just by having our eyes open. If you’re putting education, and specifically, moral values imposed by education, as a separate variable, then that’s based on your preconceived notion that morality has a special place in counciosness, which is based on your religious filter.

    Actually, I was putting education in general as a defining variable. Look at the (nonbibilical) examples I gave: inner-city teachers who specialize in helping at-risk youth. Without their input, the at-risk youth would most likely follow the same course as others in their neighborhoods: gang membership and violence, alcoholism, drug dealing (or taking), etc.
    You are literally putting words in my mouth and then condemning me for them. That’s blatantly intellectually dishonest, but then again, I’ve come to expect this sort of behavior from non-Christians.

    Again, you’re falling prey of circular reasoning. You’re implying something is true using a premise that is the result of a religiously filtered reasoning. Such reasoning will always render true to you of course! But what happens if you remove the religious filter you have so stuck to your reasoning and see morality like any other brain function that is affected by our background?

    Morals can be learned regardless of one’s background. A person (let’s say he’s an atheist) can grow up in a drug-infested neighborhood yet remain clean and sober. Isn’t this free will?

    You state your opinion as fact. You forgot to add: “I believe so because I want free will to be real”.

    Pot, meet kettle.

    I would have preferred you had used an example that wasn’t in the Bible, simply because I don’t know if this Hezekiah was a regular person like you and me. But let’s pretend he was a normal person like anyone you meet on the street,

    Fine, biblical examples annoy you. What about Michael Vick? Jamie Escalante and his students? Those aren’t biblical examples. You haven’t said anything about them. Why not? Does the conclusion interfere with your belief that free will doesn’t exist?

    No, the point “doesn’t remain”. It’s easy to see why your reasoning is flawed.

    Please, take your condescension and shove it. You are tedious and boring and illogical.

    Turning around a bad background means nothing for free will, because people can choose a path different from their parents simply because they’ve grown to not like or even despise such path.

    THAT IS FREE WILL. REMEMBER WHAT I STATED EARLIER: FREE WILL IS THE ABILITY TO CHOOSE. Really, what part of this statement do you NOT understand? Are you being deliberately obtuse?

    In any case, this feeling towards a particular path (following it or moving away from it) can be the result of previous experiences, NOT free will.

    Moving away or towards a particular path is free will. Let’s take the sober atheist I created earlier. He lives in a drug-infested neighborhood. He sees police cars there all the time. He sees the wealth of the dealers, but he also sees the ruined lives of the junkies. He chooses not to become a junkie. That is free will.

    Hezekiah might have had certain experiences with his father background that led him to reject it purely on the combination of an undefined number of elements from his past. What you’re doing is ignoring the effect of this elements from his past and attributing the decision to free will. Why?

    BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT FREE WILL IS: THE ABILITY TO CHOOSE. Your stupidity is getting tedious.

    Because in your mind:
    I assume free will is real >> This means choices are the result of free will >> Hezekiah made a choice >> Therefore free will is real.
    It’s circular reasoning.

    Or free will is real and you’re the deluded one. I prefer to follow this logic.

    Below another problem of your faulty logic.
    I’ve yet to see any evidence of genes that contribute to alcoholism or promiscuous behavior
    This is a complete misundertanding of what genes can and can’t do. You’re putting everything that could be a “background” in the same bag.

    Actually, you did this from the outset. You combined “background” into one giant happy bag of fun wherein you included genetics, social, and environmental factors. If the logic is faulty, it’s because you haven’t clearly defined what background is. The mistake lies with you, not me.

    Genes don’t decide if someone becomes an alcoholic or promiscuos (as far as I can tell), but an unhappy childhood due to bad parenting (or any other negative background elements) can produce such behaviour. You’re falsely implying that background = genes, and ignoring (perhaps deliberately to fit your worldview) the other vast number of elements of someone’s background.

    You falsely implied that genetics are a factor in one’s background. You included it in your list.
    Proton, you are a sad little atheist. You see everything through a cloudy lens and then self-righteously proclaim that everyone else is wrong and you are right. I’ve had deeper conversations with third graders. Your logic is flawed. Your proof is nowhere to be found. You provide no clear evidence of anything but the fact that you are the deluded one.

  33. Barb, are you still there? I’m expecting your opinion on my last comment (above this one).

    Anyway, thanks to you I’ve discovered a sort of formal argument that can be made against the concept of free will (and hence against the base of Christian religion), which can be described below (words or premises might be changed/edited later to avoid ambiguities, but the idea remains):

    1-Our past and present affect our feelings.
    2-Our feelings affect our choices.
    3-Therefore free will is false.

    Premise 1 is undeniably true: Countless examples based on human experience can be made to support this.
    Premise 3 is also undeniable true: If our choices are affected by anything that has a material source, then free will is false.

    Premise 2 is the one that can be a bit tricky, and therefore where more detail is necessary to make explicit it’s truth:

    If premise 2 is false, then that would mean that feelings have no effect on choices. However, if this is true, then our feelings are meaningless. If feelings are meaningless, then our souls are meaningless, which is an untenable position.

    I think this is a very raw set up and probably will need to be added lots of details to avoid ambiguities and confusions, but I think it gives something to think about.

  34. Yes, I’m still here.
    You write,

    Again your own logic at fail here. If by “affecting others” you mean that our decisions can be considered as an external factor that might affect someone else’s decisions, then YOU are implying that no one has free will because we’re constantly affected by the decisions of others, starting from our leaders, to our bosses, to our coworkers, to people on the streets, to our friends and to our family members, and of course, the combination of the decisions of all those people. Oh and also that person who bumped at you on the street the other day and didn’t choose to apologize because he was having a bad day.

    This is a non sequitur. We CAN be affected by the decisions of others but it doesn’t mean that we ARE affected. Free will, as I have mentioned countless times by now, is the ability to make a choice. We control our own behavior.
    Let’s take a real world example. I am laid off from my job. It’s my supervisor’s decision. Does it affect me? Yes, in that I no longer have a job. Does that mean that I will never again have another job, or that I will soon spiral into depression? No, it does not. Because I can control how I react to this decision based on free will.
    Free will is freedom of choice. If you cannot or will not see that simple point for the truth that it is then there is no point in further discussing this issue with you.

    Now, if you want to counter this argument by saying that “affecting others” does NOT mean “affecting their decisions”, then you have a problem. If you affect someone, but not their decisions (leaving aside how crazy that sounds), then you’re affecting their enviroment. If you affect their enviroment, you’re affecting how the feel. If you affect how they feel, then you affect the way they rationalize things. If the way they rationalize things changes, their decisions will also change, and so free will is false. If you now say that “affecting their enviroment” doesn’t affect the way people feel (and therefore how they rationalize things), then feelings have no meaning because they can’t affect free will. Is that what you believe?

    What you have just posted is the most insane amount of illogical drivel I have ever read on the Internet. At no time did you produce even one coherent thought.

    You see that the entire logic behind free will is a BIG question-begging position? It only makes sense if you bend and twist and maneuver around your observations to fit it, and even then it begs the question big time.

    Actually, it doesn’t, but then again, you don’t appear to have really read any of my posts anyway.

    Anyway, thanks to you I’ve discovered a sort of formal argument that can be made against the concept of free will (and hence against the base of Christian religion), which can be described below (words or premises might be changed/edited later to avoid ambiguities, but the idea remains):
    1-Our past and present affect our feelings.
    2-Our feelings affect our choices.
    3-Therefore free will is false.

    Okay, let’s examine your argument.

    Premise 1 is undeniably true: Countless examples based on human experience can be made to support this.

    Our past and present can affect our feelings, but they do not always affect our feelings. We can overcome a difficult past. Countless real world examples can be shown to verify this. Your first premise is on shaky ground.
    Here’s a real world example: Chris Gardner, the real life character from the Will Smith movie “The Pursuit of Happyness.” He was homeless. However, he overcame that background to be successful on Wall Street. Did his past affect his feelings? To some degree, yes. Did he overcome his past to improve his present? Undeniably, yes.

    Premise 3 is also undeniable true: If our choices are affected by anything that has a material source, then free will is false.

    No, it’s not. Premise 1 and 2 have to be true and you haven’t shown that.

    Premise 2 is the one that can be a bit tricky, and therefore where more detail is necessary to make explicit it’s truth:
    If premise 2 is false, then that would mean that feelings have no effect on choices. However, if this is true, then our feelings are meaningless. If feelings are meaningless, then our souls are meaningless, which is an untenable position.

    Our feelings can affect our choices, but they don’t always affect our choices. We can “follow our heart” (as countless Disney movies advise us to do) or we can use our brain. Your oversimplification has not proven free will false; it only shows that you need to study logic a bit more before trying to construct a syllogism.

  35. I made that last comment without reading your previous one (#32, which you posted while I was writing my last comment) so now I’ll respond to that one and your last one (#34) as well:

    Proton, you are a sad little atheist.

    I remember saying I was a theist.

    You are seeing everything through the lens of non-theism.

    Of course this is false because I’m a THEIST.

    you are filtering everything through a lens that states that Christians are deluded

    your preconceived notions (Christians are deluded)

    you observe everything through the filter that states “Christians are deluded”.

    I never said I base (and I certainly don’t base) my argument on “Christianity is false” or “Christians are deluded”, you imagined that by yourself. I’ve always been open to Christianity, and therefore I don’t have a filter against it (unlike you, who have a filter pro-Christianity).

    I don’t have a filter other than observation and I’ve made that clear. Or to put it in other words, I have the filter of someone who is a theist who has never read any religious text. So my filter would be “theism”. But nothing else.

    ——-
    Ok so above I was just trying to clarify some misconceptions you had about me and my arguments. Let’s move on to your arguments now:

    I’ve finally found the culprit:

    FREE WILL IS THE ABILITY TO CHOOSE. Really, what part of this statement do you NOT understand?

    Free will is freedom of choice. If you cannot or will not see that simple point for the truth that it is…

    This is a fallacy of presumption, you’re doing this:

    1-Choosing implies free will. (ASSUMMING THE CONCLUSION)
    2-People choose.
    3-Therefore people excercise free will.

    But making a choice involves free will ONLY IN YOUR VIEW, and it’s the view that’s under discussion here, so you can’t use it as an argument.

    Of course NONE of my arguments were ever gonna be considered if you were assuming all along that “choosing = free will” is true.

    Choosing = Free will” is what’s under discussion!

    Now that that’s cleared, I hope this gives end to all your arguments the type of “If you can choose, you can excercise free will“. Such arguments are fallacious and comprise what I’m trying to refute.

    Just to clarify, most of your your previous arguments, if not all of them, were made assuming the premise “choosing is excercising free will” is a fact, so I invite to look back to some of your responses to my previous arguments and see if they still hold they way you thought they did.

    So, let’s move on.

    He lives in a drug-infested neighborhood. He sees police cars there all the time. He sees the wealth of the dealers, but he also sees the ruined lives of the junkies. He chooses not to become a junkie. That is free will.

    So what if he has an impaired sight? And I’m not talking about the eyes only, I’m talking about his mind. What if he can’t “see” clearly enough to discern the right path? What if he’s too drunk, or too high, or too ignorant, or too naive, or he’s threatened? THINK ABOUT THAT FOR A MOMENT, WHERE DOES FREE WILL GO THEN?

    So this is the truth about the Christians, they WANT TO and MUST believe that everyone has the ability to discern between right or wrong at ALL times, no exception. This is true right?

    Do you think that EVERY human in world knows at ALL TIMES how to correctly discern between good and evil? Even if they’re drugged, or drunk, or high, or too ignorant, or easily manipulated, etc etc? You must believe that’s true because otherwise free will is false for THOSE who don’t know how to discern good from evil either because they were badly taught or their current state of mind is impairing their abilities to think properly. AGAIN, WHAT HAPPENS TO FREE WILL THEN?

    Answer that please. I think that Christians will say “in those cases God understands the mind was not reasoning well and so He forgives them”. But if alcohol and drugs can impair free will, can also anger or depression blind rational thought? Or pain? Or happyness? Can being in love impair judgement? Can previous experiences impair judgment? If I suffer from severe social anxiety, wouldn’t my decision of going out or stay in home be completely DIFFERENT if I was an extrovert?

    Respond honestly to the last question. What’s the answer?

    You see? Christians have a delusion in which people’s choices are not ultimately the result of their feelings, conditions or experiences. But you have to twist your thinking a lot to believe that the answer to the question above is “no”!

    I can give you hundreds of examples of the same type of situation as the question discussed, and each and all of them would convince any rational person that free will is FALSE.

    Another problem in your argument:

    Morals can be learned regardless of one’s background.

    Please give me an example of learning of morals that can be applied to EVERY human that has ever lived, especially those with mentors that taught them evil. This is important, because you MUST believe that morals can be learned regardless of the backgroung because judgement based on free will can’t exist for an individual that can’t discern between right or wrong.

    Also, the fact you say “Morals can be learned regardless of one’s background” means that you believe that until some point in their lives, humans don’t know morals, and therefore they can’t be judged for choosing evil. Is that so?

    We CAN be affected by the decisions of others but it doesn’t mean that we ARE affected.

    Christian logic I assume, because that makes no sense whatsoever. If we CAN be affected by the decisions of others, but we ARE NOT affected, then it means for all practical purposes that we actually CAN’T be affected. However you said we CAN.

    This type of argument from you just shows the internal contradiction Christians have to go through to sustain their belief in free will.

    Our feelings can affect our choices, but they don’t always affect our choices.

    This means you admit that sometimes our feelings impair our free will. You’re admitting again that free will CAN be impaired sometimes. Why do you have so much trouble realizing that free will can be impaired at all times by everything we feel, have felt, or have ever lived through?
    The idea that free will can be impaired only on some situations (and not all) is purely ad hoc to the case of free will and can’t be inferred from observation, meaning, only assuming a priori that free will exists can someone claim that rational choices are almost never impaired. This is a clear case of a fallacy of presumption.

    You must concede that once you start treating the premise “choosing implies free will” as an ASSUMPTION (as you should, because is what’s being questioned), many things that made sense to you before might not make so much sense now.

    Let’s take a real world example. I am laid off from my job. It’s my supervisor’s decision. Does it affect me? Yes, in that I no longer have a job. Does that mean that I will never again have another job, or that I will soon spiral into depression? No, it does not. Because I can control how I react to this decision based on free will.

    You wrote this when you were taking “choosing implies free will” as a universal fact. Now that such premise is taken as the assumption it is, don’t you think that it’s possible that:

    I can control how I react to this decision based on free will

    .. Can really be:

    I can control how I react to this decision based on how my parents raised me to face tough decisions and my previous experience facing tough decisions

    (or any other similar example)?

    Does that make sense?

    Here’s a real world example: Chris Gardner, the real life character from the Will Smith movie “The Pursuit of Happyness.” He was homeless. However, he overcame that background to be successful on Wall Street.

    “Overcoming” something does not imply free will, why do you use it as an argument? Did I ever say that people don’t have the ability to overcome situations? No. I just said that such overcomings were determined to happen because of the combination of elements from one’s background (doesn’t rule out divine intervention).

    Did his past affect his feelings? To some degree, yes. Did he overcome his past to improve his present? Undeniably, yes.

    Text in bold is assumption. Text in italics does not imply nor suggest free will at all.

    ——————
    So, a bit of a summary:

    “Choosing means excersing free will” is an ASSUMPTION.

    Why do I think that assumption is wrong? Because of the correlation I started this argument with (similar backgrounds, similar choices).

    Correlation does not imply causation? Maybe, but it SUGGESTS causation, and when the correlation is high and the sample size is huge (every human on earth) then that suggestion should be taken seriously.

    Also, “correlation does not imply causation” is used when there could be a Z factor affecting BOTH variables (background being X and choices being Y) and generating a false correlation. However, this is in a mathematical sense. WHAT would Z be in the case of human experiencie? I invite you to give me the answer to that question.

    Why do you think that assumption is right? Because:
    1-You claim that there are some exceptions to that correlation. This is not a fact, is an assumption based on either ignorance or deliberate minimization of all the elements of someone’s life that can affect choices, or plain refusal to accept the existence of such elements. There’s no reason to believe that only few elements of the background affect choices, when a correlation is high suggesting that most or all elements of someone’s background affect choices.
    2-Because you claim that some “assumed” exceptions to the correlation prove the correlation wrong, which is nonsense. If 1 out of 10 people escape bad backgrounds, then implying that people escaping bad backgrounds are the rule is deliberately ignoring the observable evidence. Observable evidence of human experience suggest a strong correlation between background and choices, in this case “9 out of 10 people with bad backgrounds end up with a bad future” (and this is just a raw example). Implying the opposite is deliberately ignoring the observable evidence for the sake of supporting your worldview.

    So what supports your assumption that “choosing implies free will” is true? The Bible plus a purpuseful bending of observation.

    What supports my assumption that “choosing implies free will” is false? A very suggestive correlation between people’s backgrounds and their choices (and I’m being conservative by saying “suggestive”, because if we could see ALL of everybody’s backgrounds, I have no doubt that the correlation would be total. I think an experiment could even be developed to test this correlation in real life with real people).

    The argument is as clear as it can get now. Whose arguments involve fallacies? Who’s assuming the most? Which party depends more heavily in belief and which one depends more heavily on evidence?

  36. @Barb, I’m waiting your opinion on my last comment (unless you don’t want to provide one, in which case we can consider this discussion ended)

  37. Proton, this is my last comment. You clearly do not want to listen to anything that contravenes your worldview, and I have no desire to waste my time arguing on the Internet.

    Of course this is false because I’m a THEIST.

    If you believe in God, then how is it that you deny free will? Free will is a component of all the major theistic religions.

    I never said I base (and I certainly don’t base) my argument on “Christianity is false” or “Christians are deluded”, you imagined that by yourself. I’ve always been open to Christianity, and therefore I don’t have a filter against it (unlike you, who have a filter pro-Christianity).

    You are most certainly not open to Christianity, based on your posts. Try a little intellectual honesty for a change.
    You have repeatedly stated that you believe Christians are deluded. Are you now denying this?

    I don’t have a filter other than observation and I’ve made that clear. Or to put it in other words, I have the filter of someone who is a theist who has never read any religious text. So my filter would be “theism”. But nothing else.

    If you’ve never read any religious texts, I’d suggest you start. It might help to coalesce your worldview a little better.

    This is a fallacy of presumption, you’re doing this:
    1-Choosing implies free will. (ASSUMMING THE CONCLUSION)
    2-People choose.
    3-Therefore people excercise free will.
    But making a choice involves free will ONLY IN YOUR VIEW, and it’s the view that’s under discussion here, so you can’t use it as an argument.

    I don’t believe I’m committing any logical fallacy. My definition of free will is acting as a free moral agent with freedom of choice. You don’t have to like it. You do have to deal with it if you’re going to debate me.

    The syllogism is better represented thusly:
    1. Free will is freedom of choice.
    2. People have freedom of choice.
    3. Therefore, people have free will.

    Just to clarify, most of your your previous arguments, if not all of them, were made assuming the premise “choosing is excercising free will” is a fact, so I invite to look back to some of your responses to my previous arguments and see if they still hold they way you thought they did.

    My argumentation is fine. Yours, however, could use some work. I pointed this out several posts before, but you seem to have conveniently ignored it.

    So what if he has an impaired sight? And I’m not talking about the eyes only, I’m talking about his mind. What if he can’t “see” clearly enough to discern the right path? What if he’s too drunk, or too high, or too ignorant, or too naive, or he’s threatened? THINK ABOUT THAT FOR A MOMENT, WHERE DOES FREE WILL GO THEN?

    Wow, capslock of rage there. You getting upset or something?
    As I pointed out, free will is freedom of choice. If people choose to delude themselves and dull their senses with alcohol or drugs, THAT IS THEIR CHOICE. Free will exists. My point is made (yet again).

    So this is the truth about the Christians, they WANT TO and MUST believe that everyone has the ability to discern between right or wrong at ALL times, no exception. This is true right?

    Christians believe in the concept of free will. You might want to get started reading some of those religious texts. You’re arguing against someone with a position that you don’t begin to understand.

    Christian logic I assume, because that makes no sense whatsoever. If we CAN be affected by the decisions of others, but we ARE NOT affected, then it means for all practical purposes that we actually CAN’T be affected. However you said we CAN.
    This type of argument from you just shows the internal contradiction Christians have to go through to sustain their belief in free will.

    We can discern between right and wrong at all times. Sometimes we don’t. The Bible clearly states that our consciences can become “seared” and fail to work properly. Our consciences can accuse us (make us feel guilt) or excuse us (rationalize our behavior).
    You are making no sense at all.
    A person can be affected by another’s choice, but they don’t have to be. Case in point: you choose to eat chicken for lunch. That doesn’t affect me at all. You are again using faulty logic. You are getting into either/or reasoning, which doesn’t work here. There are alternatives, which you are clearly not even bothering to consider.

    Our feelings can affect our choices, but they don’t always affect our choices.
    This means you admit that sometimes our feelings impair our free will. You’re admitting again that free will CAN be impaired sometimes. Why do you have so much trouble realizing that free will can be impaired at all times by everything we feel, have felt, or have ever lived through?

    I already stated that free will can be impaired through human imperfection, another facet of Christian belief. Claiming that free will CAN BE IMPAIRED AT ALL TIMES, though, is illogical. You have absolutely no proof that this is true.

    The idea that free will can be impaired only on some situations (and not all) is purely ad hoc to the case of free will and can’t be inferred from observation, meaning, only assuming a priori that free will exists can someone claim that rational choices are almost never impaired. This is a clear case of a fallacy of presumption.

    You are again falling victim to “either/or” reasoning.

    Free will can be impaired. To suggest (as you do) that it is always impaired is not even close to being provable empirically. Your logic is way off base, and I find it almost amusing that you refuse to see this.

    “Overcoming” something does not imply free will, why do you use it as an argument? Did I ever say that people don’t have the ability to overcome situations? No. I just said that such overcomings were determined to happen because of the combination of elements from one’s background (doesn’t rule out divine intervention).

    Why would overcoming a difficult background not imply free will? Surely Chris had the free will to choose to better himself and make a good life for his son? How is this not freedom of choice?
    I am not even going to get into the rest of your argumentation. You have little concept of what I believe or why I believe it, and you do not seem to care. Read up on Christianity and then get back to me.

  38. @Barb,

    Proton, this is my last comment.

    That means I get the last word and just one last comment? I’ll make it count then.

    You being someone that seems to be afraid of giving a close look to your own beliefs when they’re challenged, I doubt you’ll read all of this, but I’ll write this as a record of the delusional reasoning behind Christians for future reference.

    Although you can at least take a look at what’s in bold.

    If you believe in God, then how is it that you deny free will? Free will is a component of all the major theistic religions.

    Why would I trust some book which origins can’t be confirmed instead of empirical observations of the world?

    There’s NO reason to get involved in religions at all, even as a theist. I prefer to observe instead of being told what to believe and what to think, which is what religion does.

    And why do people trust so easily in what’s written in some book is a mistery to me. Althought the answer might be simple: Because they were taught so.

    You are most certainly not open to Christianity, based on your posts. Try a little intellectual honesty for a change.

    Actually, I was open to Christianty when this thread of comments started, but after seeing how delusional Christians can get, I see that there’s no truth to be found in it. So yeah, I pass.

    You have repeatedly stated that you believe Christians are deluded. Are you now denying this?

    I never said that such idea was the base of my arguments. “Christians are deluded” is one of the conclusions, not a premise.

    If you’ve never read any religious texts, I’d suggest you start. It might help to coalesce your worldview a little better.

    Seeing how damaging religion can be to someone’s observation abilities (you’re my recent proof), I’ll pass. I’m afraid that once someone accepts certain religion, they can never stop filtering their observations to fit it. You’re evidence of this, and I’ll save this comments for future reference.

    I don’t believe I’m committing any logical fallacy. My definition of free will is acting as a free moral agent with freedom of choice. You don’t have to like it. You do have to deal with it if you’re going to debate me.

    LOL yeah, that’s exactly what’s wrong with you. You impose your belief as the conclusion (seen in your “better” representation of the syllogism), that’s the whole idea behind the delusion of the Christians. They assume as right what they believe and don’t even dare to consider it’s falsehood. There’s no argument because Christians are not even open to any challege to their views at all in the first place.

    You’re so afraid of even considering that your premise is an assumption and not a fact that instead of doing that you prefer to commit yourself to a fallacy of presumption.

    It maches perfectly what religion is: “Believe in it and don’t ask questions”.

    That’s why religion is the worst place to start in search for truth. You can’t find the truth if you don’t ask questions.

    My argumentation is fine. Yours, however, could use some work. I pointed this out several posts before, but you seem to have conveniently ignored it.

    You sound like a Darwinist debating an ID, Darwinists love to claim that the other person is the one who doesn’t understand their fallacious and question-begging arguments.

    Wow, capslock of rage there. You getting upset or something?

    I sense the one running out of patience or arguments is not me.

    As I pointed out, free will is freedom of choice (assumption). If people choose to delude themselves and dull their senses with alcohol or drugs, THAT IS THEIR CHOICE. Free will exists (assumming the conclusion). My point is made (yet again) (by fallacious reasoning!).

    Easy to win an argument with circular reasoning right?

    Christians believe in the concept of free will.

    I suppose that should make the concept of free will automatically true right? LOL

    Such non-answers from your just keep helping my case.

    We can discern between right and wrong at all times, but sometimes we don’t. (…) You are making no sense at all.

    LOL! I guess “at all times” = “sometimes”.

    Yeah…I’m the one not making sense.

    The Bible clearly states that our consciences can become “seared” and fail to work properly. Our consciences can accuse us (make us feel guilt) or excuse us (rationalize our behavior).

    “Why bother to observe the world around me and think for myself? The Bible has all the answers!”

    There are alternatives, which you are clearly not even bothering to consider.

    I gave you an alternative to free will: people’s backgrounds. Did you consider that possibility? Of course not. You just cover your ears and scream “Free will is choice and therefore choice is free will! Proton you’re wrong!”

    But non-fallacious arguments to support that is too much to ask right?

    I am not even going to get into the rest of your argumentation.

    Of course not, why would you dare to consider a REAL challenge to your core beliefs? Why would you want to consider the possibility that your beliefs are wrong?

    It’s much easier to remain deluded and not ask any questions right?

    Claiming that free will CAN BE IMPAIRED AT ALL TIMES, though, is illogical. You have absolutely no proof that this is true.

    Free will can be impaired. To suggest (as you do) that it is always impaired is not even close to being provable empirically.

    Don’t need to get all defensive. Yes, I HAVE proof. The proof is the correlation between brackgrounds and choices I’ve been talking about all along (which you don’t like discussing apparently, because it’s just too strong of an argument). Luckily, such correlation does not need to be believed in, it can be TESTED in real life and be proved empirically.

    So you can act like a child all you want and scream that I’m wrong and that my logic is off etc etc, but it’s useless because the correlation I’m discussing can be tested and clear all doubts once and for all.

    All that is needed to prove this correlation is to make a simple experiment consisting in this:

    1) Make a list of common life-changing choices among a large group of people.

    2) Then proceed to investigate each of those people’s backgrounds in detail to find patterns and matching background elements.

    If such investigation returns a high correlation between certain patterns and elements in all similar life changing choices, then this would be a huge and very reliable indication that such decisions were affected by such background elements.

    Incidentally, the larger the sample size for this investigation and the more details are retrieved from every person’s background, the more reliable and powerful the correlation would be.

    For example, find a person, let’s say a young man, write down a number of his most important choices, especially choices involving clear life changing paths, and then investigate that persons’ background, including personality, parents, brothers and sisters and their personalities, where did he lived and grew up, cultural habits, familiy values, whether he fought with his siblings a lot or they were close, the school he went to, his teachers, the education he received, the religion he was taught (or lack there of), his last job, previous jobs, former friends, the personalities of such friends and activities they did together, also health conditions, past and present ones, the religion of his girlfriend or wife and how much time he was with her (to see possible influences), political influences, etc etc. The list can go on and on.

    Then make the same experiment with other person with similar background or similar present situation. And then repeat the experiment with as much people as possible. The bigger the sample size, the better.

    The reason this experiment would be a success in proving free wil is an illusion is the same reason why detectives trying to find a criminal’s motive look at the background of the criminal: Because there are PATTERNS in criminal behaviour corresponding to determined characteristics in criminals’ backgrounds. This is OBVIOUS to any rational person and proves free will doesn’t exist.

    Free will, as “the power of making free choices that are unconstrained by external circumstances” is a complete delusion and can be easily proven false by proving, with the experiment I mentioned, that choices ARE in fact constrained by external circumnstances.

    Keep deluding yourself all you want though! I’m gonna save a copy of this thread of comments as proof of fallacious Christian reasoning, just in case a debate arises in the future.

    Thanks for your time, I started this discussion with a simple question: “Is it possible that the fact that so many IDs in UD are Christians implies some rationality or truth behind Christianity that I’m failing to see?”. The answer was a resounding “no”, such rationality is unexistent, and the conclusion is Christians are Christians because they prefer to ignore the obvious empirical evidence of external constraint to fit their worldview. As far as I can tell, I’m done here (however, I might add some more examples to this thread of comments, not to get a response, but to enrich it a bit more, to make it a sort of resource I can come back to later).

  39. Morty Lefkoe, with his sucessful beliefs elimination program, shows why free will is false:

    http://www.mortylefkoe.com

    If free will was real, then such programs, based on eliminating negative conditioning beliefs developed early in life, would never work. However they do, and Morty’s success shows this clearly.

    There’s no surprise of course, Morty’s program WORKS because he’s basing it on a simple premise:

    “All that we think and choose to do now depends on beliefs we developed earlier in life”.

    In other words: Free will is false.

  40. Serial killers, who could be considered to have made unforgivable sins, are predestined to become so:

    http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/1698

    A startling amount of criminals on death row have been clinically diagnosed with brain disorders. A recent study has demonstrated that 20 out of 31 confessed killers are diagnosed as mentally ill. Out of that 20, 64% have frontal lobe abnormalities. (1) A thorough study of the profiles of many serial killers shows that many of them had suffered sever head injuries (to the frontal lobe) when they were children.

    (…) An example of a serial killer that had suffered sever injury to his frontal lobe is Albert Fish, better known as the Brooklyn Vampire. At the age of seven he had a severe fall off a cherry tree which caused a head injury from which he would have permanent problems with, such as headaches and dizzy spells. (2) After his fall he began to display many violent tendencies, including an interest in sadomasochistic activities.

    (…) As the study of the profiles of serial killers progresses many similarities in their pasts, and in their recurring actions become eerily apparent. As children many suffered through traumatic childhoods, usually being physically or mentally abused. From this fact, it emerges that all reported cases of abuse committed against serial killers was done by their mothers.

    O mother of a child with frontal lobe damage writes:

    I have a child with a frontal lobe brain injury. The authenticity of these behaviors being caused by this specific injury is genuine. He has the best of care and the best of everything available to children with a frontal lobe brain injury however that does not change his natural instincts to see blood and gore.

    If someone falls he will always come to ask if there is any blood or injury he can see. When he was four years old he asked if we could open the cat so he could see the inside.

    We have other children, one of them is a boy. They were all reared exactly the same and none of them are abused.

    My son’s neuropsychologist agrees that the aggressive behavior and the disturbing behavior are brought about by the injury itself to the frontal lobe. This is common sense.

    My son also shows many signs of impulse control problems… you do the math…

    ———–

    Serial Killers are the product of brain disorders and bad backgrounds:

    http://voices.yahoo.com/serial.....72483.html

    The frontal lobe is considered responsible for much of the behavior that makes possible stable and adequate social relations. Self-control, planning, judgment, the balance of individual versus social needs, and many other essential functions underlying effective social intercourse are mediated by the frontal structures of the brain.” (Rutigliano) Some scientists believe this area of our brain is our moral compass or conscience. A study done at four universities found that individuals with damage to the frontal lobe had abnormal social emotions in real life. The study showed they lacked empathy and compassion. (Brain Damage)

    (…) While there is reason to believe that nature may play a role in the creation of a serial killer, there is also strong evidence that nurture plays just as strong a role. People who support this theory believe that behaviors are learned and that violent behavior is learned in childhood. The evidence of severe physical and mental abuse is abundant. One extreme example is Henry Lee Lucas who was beaten by his prostitute mother for years. His mother would dress him as a girl to go to school and force him to watch her have sex with men. Many of these men were violent.

    In short, there’s no doubt that there’s a correlation between brain damage and/or bad nurturing in the creation of a serial killer.

    If free will was real such patterns in their backgrounds shouldn’t exist.

    Should God punish serial killers, one of the worst types of human beings, if it’s not their fault to be that way?

  41. Proton now contradicts himself:

    In short, there’s no doubt that there’s a correlation between brain damage and/or bad nurturing in the creation of a serial killer.

    If free will was real such patterns in their backgrounds shouldn’t exist.

    In the final piece of your quote: “there is also strong evidence that nurture plays just as strong a role. People who support this theory believe that behaviors are learned and that violent behavior is learned in childhood. The evidence of severe physical and mental abuse is abundant.”

    So, it’s not that serial killers are born. They’re self-created. And making a choice to kill another human being is an example of free will. Why do you not understand this simple point?

  42. So, it’s not that serial killers are born. They’re self-created.

    That’s your little bias over there. The evidence, in any case, would imply that serial killers are created, NOT “self” created. Two VERY different things. However you put the word “self” there conveniently to put the blame on the serial killer.

    The evidence speaks for itself. Most serial killers share common patterns in their past and brain conditions (even in other secondary traits like having higher than average intelligence and being healthy and fit), and therefore the choice of killing others can’t be attributed to free will. If they were predetermined to be violent people then they didn’t have a choice from the start.

  43. Obsessive–Compulsive Behaviour: A Disorder of Decision-Making

    http://anp.sagepub.com/content/39/9/757.abstract

    The dorsolateral, orbitofrontal and anterior cingulate cortices are engaged in multiregion neural subsystems that interact with each other to retain information online, manipulate options, make choices and maintain goals. These interact with the limbic regions, especially the amygdala, in relation to history of reward and emotional valence relating to a choice, and the basal ganglia for behavioural execution. Abnormalities in these regions also characterize OCD and related disorders, therefore leading to problems in making some decisions that are affect-laden by nature or association.

    If mental disorders can impair normal judgment and affect decision-making, can people with OCD be held accountable for their choices?

  44. Front Lobe damage affects personality and behaviour:
    http://www.braininjuryinstitut.....amage.html

    “The frontal lobe controls motor skills like hand/eye coordination, conscious thought, emotions, and even your personality. As a result of a brain injury, frontal lobe damage may impair your attention span, motivation, judgment, and organizational capacity.”

    Your frontal lobe, which consists of a right and left lobe or hemisphere, is the hub of “who you are”; your emotions and personality. Both lobes deal with social, emotional, motor, and sexual behavior, as well as problem solving, decision making, and memory.

    If our front lobe has such an effect on our decisions, behaviour and emotions, and the front lobe is a physical thing determined by physical laws, then our emotions are decisions are also predetermined by physical laws, NOT free will.

  45. Another way to look the last comment, is this way:

    If a material cause that produces a material damaging effect on the brain (like getting hit in the head, a tumor, a virus, an infection, etc) can cause a change in our behaviour, personality and decision-making capabilities (vast amounts of empirical evidence support this), then that means that our behaviour, personality and decisions have a material ORIGIN (material causes can’t affect non-material things).

    And if our behaviour, personality and decisions have a material origin, then they are affected by physical laws, in which case we are ultimately not responsible for our behaviour and decisions because they are predetermined by external causes.

  46. Proton writes:

    That’s your little bias over there. The evidence, in any case, would imply that serial killers are created, NOT “self” created. Two VERY different things. However you put the word “self” there conveniently to put the blame on the serial killer.

    Are you actually defending the behavior of serial killers?

    Really?

    You are claiming that to plan to take a human life is perfectly okay because…evolution and genes and stuff?

    The evidence speaks for itself.

    Not in the way that you want it to. Jeffrey Dahmer, a cannibal serial killer, blamed the teaching of evolution for his deranged behavior. Ted Bundy blamed a habit of reading violent pornography. Both were raised in middle class households without abuse, to my knowledge.

    Most serial killers share common patterns in their past and brain conditions (even in other secondary traits like having higher than average intelligence and being healthy and fit), and therefore the choice of killing others can’t be attributed to free will. If they were predetermined to be violent people then they didn’t have a choice from the start.

    Everyone has a choice.

    The choice of whether or not to kill another human being is an example of free will: freedom of choice. Their genes aren’t making them do this; their desires are.

    The fact that you are actually defending the behavior of some of the most reprehensible people on the planet makes me shake my head in wonder.

    And if our behaviour, personality and decisions have a material origin, then they are affected by physical laws, in which case we are ultimately not responsible for our behaviour and decisions because they are predetermined by external causes.

    How would physical laws affect one’s personality? For example, how does gravity affect one’s compassion? How does Newtonian physics affect one’s personality?

    We have to obey physical laws. We can choose to break them, though, but that would be detrimental to our health and well being. But again, we have a choice: to obey or disobey.

    The same applies with moral laws and behavior. You don’t get to say that any behavior is okay because of material laws. It’s a non sequitur.

    Should we empty the prisons and allow the inmates to live within a 5-mile radius of your house? Would you feel safer? After all, any and all behavior isn’t the responsibility of the inmates.

  47. @Barb, very interesting stuff, I see that you’ve completely misunderstood me all along (it was my fault maybe for not clarifying what I thought was obvious, no blame on you):

    You are claiming that to plan to take a human life is perfectly okay because…evolution and genes and stuff?

    First off, I don’t believe in evolution (I’m an ID). Secondly, I don’t believe it’s okay to take a human life, I just don’t believe that the perpetrator is ultimately guilty for such action because he was just given an “unfortunate hand of cards to play the game of life” so to speak (a combination of bad genes and/or brain disorders and/or bad circumsnatnces, all things that the perpetrator had never control over from the start).

    Should we empty the prisons and allow the inmates to live within a 5-mile radius of your house? Would you feel safer? After all, any and all behavior isn’t the responsibility of the inmates

    Not at all! The fact that I can forgive criminals (because they’re not ultimately guilty for their behaviour) doesn’t mean that I want criminals free. I want them all locked up. In fact, I’d have no problem if a law was enforced to simply exterminate all (really bad) criminals instead of filling space in prisions. The world would be better.

    You and me both want criminals in prisions, the difference is in the reasons. You want criminals to be punished and locked up because you believe they deserve it. I want criminals punished and locked up for two reasons:
    1-The world is obviously better without them out there.
    2-To show people what happens when they break the law and prevent them for doing so.

    In any case, I want criminals punished not because they deserve it, but because societies are simply better than way.

    And if our behaviour, personality and decisions have a material origin, then they are affected by physical laws, in which case we are ultimately not responsible for our behaviour and decisions because they are predetermined by external causes.

    How would physical laws affect one’s personality? For example, how does gravity affect one’s compassion? How does Newtonian physics affect one’s personality?

    I didn’t generalize. I was specific. This was my argument:
    1-The brain is physical/material.
    2-Brain damage can affect personality/behaviour.
    3-Therefore personality/behaviour exist physically in the brain.
    4-Therefore personality/behaviour are determined by physical laws.

    It’s just a raw argument but you get the point.

    The fact that you are actually defending the behavior of some of the most reprehensible people on the planet makes me shake my head in wonder.

    Christians’ lack of empathy also bewilders me. I believe it’s a bit of immoral and shows a lack of empathy and a lack of desire to connect with other people when they wish other people to be punished. People are not categorized into “good” or “bad”. Everyone of us was given a hand of cards and we do our best with it. Some people get really bad hands. They shouldn’t have to pay for it, they should be pitied. You and me were given a good hand of cards. Serial killers got a really bad hand. I feel sorry for them, for they’ll never enjoy life like you and me do. You should pity them, not wish them to be punished. Their entire life is terrible already for they’ll never know love or compassion. What can be more terrible than that?

    If you had a son and he had got a really bad hand of cards (like that woman in my previous comment whose son had frontal lobe damage and became sadistic/violent), would you want God to abandon him even if it’s not his fault to have a damaged brain that causes him to be violent?

    Criminals got a really bad hand of cards. Societies must make them pay for their mistakes to teach others not to follow the same path. But why would God punish them for having a bad hand? Why would God punish someone violent who was unlucky enough to have brain damage?

    Why should God punish any human at all?

  48. Keith’s comments on the absence of influence of an inmaterial soul in the brain (the argument from “two minds in one skull”) in this thread, give great support to the case that free will is just an illusion.

    For the record, I believe Keiths argument against an inmaterial soul holds ONLY under a religious definition of an inmaterial soul, as he describes in his comment #230 on that thread.

    The “two minds in one skull” argument doesn’t disprove the existence of an inmaterial soul that acts beyond the material world or after a person’s death, it just disproves the idea that such inmaterial soul, if it exists, influences our memory, knowledge and actions on the material world.

  49. Proton,

    First off, I don’t believe in evolution (I’m an ID). Secondly, I don’t believe it’s okay to take a human life, I just don’t believe that the perpetrator is ultimately guilty for such action because he was just given an “unfortunate hand of cards to play the game of life” so to speak (a combination of bad genes and/or brain disorders and/or bad circumsnatnces, all things that the perpetrator had never control over from the start).

    Okay, but what about soldiers who take human lives as a matter of their chosen profession? What about self-defense? Bad circumstances do not excuse bad behavior.

    Not at all! The fact that I can forgive criminals (because they’re not ultimately guilty for their behaviour) doesn’t mean that I want criminals free. I want them all locked up. In fact, I’d have no problem if a law was enforced to simply exterminate all (really bad) criminals instead of filling space in prisions. The world would be better.

    Well, I do believe criminals have a choice in the matter. Nobody is born a thief; their desire to take something that they can’t have (money, jewelry, whatever) makes them a thief when they steal. Again, one’s circumstances do not excuse such behavior.
    And how, exactly, would you determine the “really bad” criminals if no behavior is really bad, as I am understanding your thinking?

    You and me both want criminals in prisions, the difference is in the reasons. You want criminals to be punished and locked up because you believe they deserveit. I want criminals punished and locked up for two reasons:
    1-The world is obviously better without them out there.
    2-To show people what happens when they break the law and prevent them for doing so.
    In any case, I want criminals punished not because they deserve it, but because societies are simply better than way.

    I think that civilization needs some sense of justice, which by necessity includes punishment for wrong behavior. I do believe that some criminals do deserve to be in prison, because they know that stealing is wrong, yet they steal anyway. They know that murder is wrong, yet they kill anyway. Bear in mind that not all criminals come from what you describe as “bad circumstances”—what about these people?

    I didn’t generalize. I was specific. This was my argument:
    1-The brain is physical/material.
    2-Brain damage can affect personality/behaviour.
    3-Therefore personality/behaviour exist physically in the brain.
    4-Therefore personality/behaviour are determined by physical laws.
    It’s just a raw argument but you get the point.

    Your first premise is sound, but the second premise may or may not be true. Brain damage can affect one’s behavior (remember the case of Phineas Gage?) but it doesn’t always affect one’s behavior. Brain damage can cause a person to be completely helpless, as in the case of Terri Schiavo. And the third and fourth premises don’t take into account that our personality and behavior can and are affected by abstract concepts outside of physical laws such as love (from family and friends), anger (again, from family, friends, or bad circumstances), or compassion (from teachers). Reducing everything to physical laws leaves a lot out, and doesn’t accurately reflect how humans think.

    Christians’ lack of empathy also bewilders me. I believe it’s a bit of immoral and shows a lack of empathy and a lack of desire to connect with other people when they wish other people to be punished.

    Here is the reason why I don’t have empathy for serial killers: they choose to behave the way they do. Interviewed before his death, Ted Bundy admitted that he grew up in a close-knit, happy family. How, then, did he become a serial killer? He blamed pornography. I blame his desires.
    Ted Bundy did not have brain damage; his I Q was above average. His personality was not only shaped by physical laws, it was shaped by what he chose to put inside his head (pornography, for one thing). He did what he did because he wanted to. Not because of bad wiring. Not because of bad circumstances.
    Also consider that the Bible does not excuse bad behavior. The wicked, after all, are to be punished so that the meek can inherit the earth (Psalms 37:22, 29; Proverbs 2:21,22). God also has a sense of justice, and he expects people to adhere to right behavior.

    People are not categorized into “good” or “bad”. Everyone of us was given a hand of cards and we do our best with it.

    The Bible indicates that all people are inherently bad, or imperfect. They have a choice of whether or not to do good. They might have had difficult circumstances growing up or in adulthood, but this does not give them an excuse to steal, murder, or otherwise engage in felonious behavior. They do not get a “get out of jail free” card because they grew up in a ghetto. They do not get empathy when they deliberately cause bodily harm to other people because they want to.

    Some people get really bad hands. They shouldn’t have to pay for it, they should be pitied.

    I do pity some of them, but I do expect them to adhere to the conduct that normal civilized society states is acceptable. That means no stealing, even if you’re poor. That also means no murdering, even if you’re angry at the other person.

    You and me were given a good hand of cards. Serial killers got a really bad hand. I feel sorry for them, for they’ll never enjoy life like you and me do. You should pity them, not wish them to be punished. Their entire life is terrible already for they’ll never know love or compassion. What can be more terrible than that?

    Explain Ted Bundy. John Wayne Gacy. Jeffrey Dahmer. Ed Kemper.
    Pick up a book by a FBI profiler sometime. They delve into these cases and you would be surprised at how many serial killers are perfectly normal people from perfectly functional, happy families. Their mere existence blows your argument right out of the water. Brain damage isn’t a factor in any of their cases, so then how is their behavior to be pitied or justified or empathized with?

    If you had a son and he had got a really bad hand of cards (like that woman in my previous comment whose son had frontal lobe damage and became sadistic/violent), would you want God to abandon him even if it’s not his fault to have a damaged brain that causes him to be violent?

    No, but I would make certain that he was in a position (preferably a home or mental institution) where he could not harm anyone else. I don’t believe God would abandon him, but I do believe that God would expect me to prevent harm from coming to other people (the ethical principle of beneficence).

    Criminals got a really bad hand of cards.

    Not all of them did, see above.

    Societies must make them pay for their mistakes to teach others not to follow the same path. But why would God punish them for having a bad hand? Why would God punish someone violent who was unlucky enough to have brain damage?

    Because God expects people to do good, to be just, and to practice loving each other. He does not expect, nor does he want to see people murder, steal, and lie to each other. Yet people choose to do those things every single day. And the people who do murder, steal, and lie aren’t always poor, brain damaged people.
    Look at big business: Enron. WorldCom. Tyco. Were any of these companies being run by brain damaged people? No? Then how do you explain their behavior? Should they be pitied because they wanted and chose to steal from others?

    Why should God punish any human at all?

    Because we are much more than simple neurochemistry. We have the ability to love, to show compassion, to be self-sacrificing, and to be honest. Neurons have little to do with any of those concepts. We choose to behave the way we do. And God expects us to make the right choice.

  50. @Barb

    Bad circumstances do not excuse bad behavior.

    Nobody is born a thief

    No, but circumstances DO lead someone to become a theif, and they don’t have a choice even if at the mind level it looks like it.

    The fact that a correlation/pattern exists among thiefs’ backgrounds proves that even if it seems that the thiefs had a choice, such perception is an illusion, because the correlation makes obvious that such choices were constrained from the beginning by higher forces out of their control, and therefore the “choice” was actually determined.

    How would you determine the “really bad” criminals if no behavior is really bad, as I am understanding your thinking?

    I used such an informal phrase because is not really important. By “really bad” I mean criminals that have no way of ever becoming good people for society ever again. Many criminals, after doing time, are ready to return to society and never do bad things again. Others will always be killers, rapers, thiefs, etc. Such criminals are what I meant by “really bad”.

    I think that civilization needs some sense of justice

    I agree, however, “justice” is a just a pretty word for “vengeance”. If someone hurt my loved ones, I’d probably want that person to be hurt too, meaning, I’d want justice. And it’s easy to fall prey of the desire for vengeance, no effort is required to feel it. However I understand that such feelings of hatred and desire for vengeance would betray my empathy for human beings, and it’s harder to forgive, but it’s a better way of living I think.

    I don’t believe God would abandon him, but I do believe that God would expect me to prevent harm from coming to other people

    When did you enter the equation? I was talking about that hipothetical son of yours. If God wouldn’t abandon him, then what would He do then? If your son is violent and wants to hurt others, what does God do then? (in your view)

    Criminals got a really bad hand of cards.

    Not all of them did, see above.

    Relying on exceptions.

    Because God expects people to do good, to be just, and to practice loving each other. He does not expect, nor does he want to see people murder, steal, and lie to each other.

    That’s YOUR idea of God, an idea that correlates to your religion, nothing else. No one knows the intentions or desires of the creator, and smart people should observe the creation to try to figure it out, not ignore it. If there’s a path to knowing the Creator, then it should be by watching it’s Creation (meaning, observing empirical evidence). That’s as close as we can get to the truth. A religious book shouldn’t be trusted if it contradicts the observations from the creation don’t you think?

    Were any of these companies being run by brain damaged people? No? Then how do you explain their behavior?

    My argument from a damaged brain is to prove that our behaviour has a physical origin in the brain, not that all bad behaviour is produced by a damaged brain.

    Because we are much more than simple neurochemistry. We have the ability to love, to show compassion, to be self-sacrificing, and to be honest. Neurons have little to do with any of those concepts.

    I don’t see why you dislike neurons so much…

    Now, talking seriously, there’s no reason to believe that things like love, compassion, etc can’t have a material origin in the brain. The value of those things does not depend on whether they are material or inmaterial. Those things can be completely material, meaning, that all that we feel and dream is the product of our past and present circumstances and just neurons in our brain, and yet be completely divine, because no matter how material the world we live in is, it’s still the Design of our Creator, and so it’s divine by definition. Our feelings don’t have to be inmaterial to be important, we know they are important because the Creator made us to feel them.

    Material as we are while we’re on this world, we’re still divine, we’re still important, and we still have a purpose, because we were Designed.

  51. Proton continues,

    No, but circumstances DO lead someone to become a theif, and they don’t have a choice even if at the mind level it looks like it.

    Everyone has a choice. Everyone. You, me, and everyone else. You can choose to rob a 7-11 or you can choose not to. Simple as that.

    The fact that a correlation/pattern exists among thiefs’ backgrounds proves that even if it seems that the thiefs had a choice, such perception is an illusion, because the correlation makes obvious that such choices were constrained from the beginning by higher forces out of their control, and therefore the “choice” was actually determined.

    No, it’s not. Thieves choose to steal. There’s no illusion here. There’s no determinism here. People freely choose how to behave every single day, regardless of their circumstances.

    I used such an informal phrase because is not really important. By “really bad” I mean criminals that have no way of ever becoming good people for society ever again. Many criminals, after doing time, are ready to return to society and never do bad things again. Others will always be killers, rapers, thiefs, etc. Such criminals are what I meant by “really bad”.

    Okay, but the “really bad” criminals—by your definition—would include the serial killers you mentioned previously that you felt deserved empathy. You are completely contradicting yourself here. If no behavior is actually bad but rather predetermined, then why have prisons and laws to begin with?

    I agree, however, “justice” is a just a pretty word for “vengeance”. If someone hurt my loved ones, I’d probably want that person to be hurt too, meaning, I’d want justice.

    Not all justice is vengeance. The death penalty might be construed this way. Sending someone to prison for molesting a child is justice. Having that person molested in prison is vengeance. There is a difference.

    And it’s easy to fall prey of the desire for vengeance, no effort is required to feel it. However I understand that such feelings of hatred and desire for vengeance would betray my empathy for human beings, and it’s harder to forgive, but it’s a better way of living I think.

    I agree. I recently read a book on marriage and the family, and the authors made some good points about forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn’t deny the reality of the crime that was committed against us, nor does it condone such behavior. The book stated, “We forgive because it is what God requires of us and what we need, not because our offenders have apologized.”
    I like the way they phrased the last sentence, indicating that forgiveness is something that we all need. We can’t live our lives consumed with hatred over what someone else did to us (or to someone we love). We obviously feel pain, but we choose not to be continually paralyzed or defined by it.

    When did you enter the equation?

    You described him as my son. That’s when I entered the equation.

    I was talking about that hipothetical son of yours. If God wouldn’t abandon him, then what would He do then? If your son is violent and wants to hurt others, what does God do then? (in your view)

    I don’t believe that God would act directly in my hypothetical son’s behalf. That is why parents exist. There are laws in place (the Bake Act, for example) that make provision for the mentally ill to live safely and peacefully in society. My sense of justice (beneficence, nonmaleficence, etc) would require me to keep my son away from others, lest he harm them.

    Relying on exceptions.

    Ever heard the expression, “the exception proves the rule”? If you claim that our biology determines our behavior, then you have to account for those that don’t fall into that category. Some people deliberately choose to harm others.

    That’s YOUR idea of God, an idea that correlates to your religion, nothing else. No one knows the intentions or desires of the creator, and smart people should observe the creation to try to figure it out, not ignore it.

    I agree that smart people should try to observe the creation to figure it out (Romans 1:20). But the Bible indicates that God is knowable, even if His ways are higher than ours. It’s not that God is completely unknowable.
    The general concept of God, regardless of religion, includes the belief that such a person is omniscient, benevolent, and timeless. Most people associate God with goodness and holiness.

    If there’s a path to knowing the Creator, then it should be by watching it’s Creation (meaning, observing empirical evidence). That’s as close as we can get to the truth. A religious book shouldn’t be trusted if it contradicts the observations from the creation don’t you think?

    You should try reading the Bible. When it touches on science, it is scientific.

    My argument from a damaged brain is to prove that our behaviour has a physical origin in the brain, not that all bad behaviour is produced by a damaged brain.

    Then where does bad behavior come from?
    I don’t see why you dislike neurons so much…
    Neurons are fine. Couldn’t live without them.

    Now, talking seriously, there’s no reason to believe that things like love, compassion, etc can’t have a material origin in the brain.

    They might. But where’s the evidence for this?

    The value of those things does not depend on whether they are material or inmaterial. Those things can be completely material, meaning, that all that we feel and dream is the product of our past and present circumstances and just neurons in our brain, and yet be completely divine, because no matter how material the world we live in is, it’s still the Design of our Creator, and so it’s divine by definition. Our feelings don’t have to be inmaterial to be important, we know they are important because the Creator made us to feel them.

    How do you use the material (the physical brain) to explain the origin of the immaterial (love)? What’s the best explanation you’ve come across for the physical brain to understand and comprehend abstract concepts like love and compassion?

  52. @Barb, stop it, I’m just keeping this up because maybe I think that eventually something might go through into your head, but apparently Crhstianity has blinded you to an extent I find shoking.

    If no behavior is actually bad but rather predetermined, then why have prisons and laws to begin with?

    You must be kidding. I EXPLAINED THAT already, and clearly, here:

    I want criminals punished and locked up for two reasons:
    1-The world is obviously better without them out there.
    2-To show people what happens when they break the law and prevent them for doing so.
    In any case, I want criminals punished not because they deserve it, but because societies are simply better than way.

    I clearly believe, therefore, that laws should exist to fulfill points 1 and 2. Not because I believe no one deserves punishment I believe that criminals should be free. I have empathy for criminals, but they’re all still bad for society, and the well being of society is more important than the well being of a criminal.

    You might find it hard to feel empathy and forgiveness for someone you want locked up in prision at the same time, but that’s a limitaton/contradiction imposed by your religion. I don’t put limits to my forgiveness or empathy.

    How do you use the material (the physical brain) to explain the origin of the immaterial (love)? What’s the best explanation you’ve come across for the physical brain to understand and comprehend abstract concepts like love and compassion?

    What’s the difference between “love” and any other sensation in our brain, like pain, hunger or joy? Love might feel mystical and confusing, but that doesn’t mean it’s inmaterial, it just means that our brain is far more complex and intrincated than you think, and love happens to be one very complex feeling. Human brains have far more synapses than there are stars in our galaxy, so you can imagine what happens when they fire to produce a feeling or memory or a desire. The posibilities are endless.

    If our Designer created our lungs to breath, our legs to walk and our eyes to see, why is it so hard to believe that the Creator also made our brains complex enough to feel things love and compassion? Just because those things have a material source in our brain, their true origin is still divine.

    I imagine our Creator made an effort to design a physical brain for humans to experience things as close as possible to the love and compassion we might feel once we leave our material bodies, but because such feelings have a source on our brain, they’re limited, and we will never feel, during this life, the type of inifite love or glory that we might feel when we finally meet our Creator.

  53. ’1-The world is obviously better without them out there.’

    Better for whom? Certainly not the criminals. Or is it that a ‘majority’ makes ‘good’(god – my initial typo?), a minority, ‘bad’. With your use of the word, obviously’, you appear to be grounding yourself on a nebulous and indeed, gratuitous, psephology.

    ‘In any case, I want criminals punished not because they deserve it, but because societies are simply better than way.’

    There you go again. Better? Not in their eyes. What makes you think you are better than a criminal, because you have the kind of worldly intelligence which affords you the knowledge of what levers to pull and what buttons to press, in order to use ‘the system’ to you own optimal advantage, while, like so many of our confreres (who should know better), not being in favour of modifying the structures that make our Western societies so lethal to the less worldly?

    Your use of the terms, ‘bad for society’, and ‘well-being of society’, in the final analysis, raises the question of respectively defining both, in a manner that would be agreeable to everyone.

    Criminals are part of society. It’s just a dog-eat-dog, nihilistic society we live in however confidently its leaders might pose as ‘respectable’ citizens; indeed, the rationale for this blog is precisely to counter that internecine canine propensity, as it affects honest scientists, who wish to see science make timely advances, instead of awaiting the passage of a long succession of funerals, (to borrow Max Planck’s metaphor), but see their careers ruined by the Consensus malefactors, for their pains.

  54. Axel, I just can’t reconcile findings like this:

    “All living cells that we know of on this planet are ‘DNA software’-driven biological machines comprised of hundreds of thousands of protein robots, coded for by the DNA, that carry out precise functions. ”
    — Craig Venter, Trinity College Dublin, July 12, 2012

    With the atheist’s claim that they are the rational ones for believing it was not designed. It is not even in the ballpark of ‘analytical’ thinking! :)

    There seems to be very little difference between the penumbral intellectual development of disaffected, adolescent, secondary-school atheists and their adult, atheist, activist idols, both seeing themselves as ultra cerebral, despite sharing equal susceptibility for belief in mythical creatures, such as the multiverse, which would have defied the imagination of the Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen – or indeed, quite possibly, Forrest Gump.

    A belief in unicorns and pink pixies, which the adolescents laughably ascribe to Christians, would be kind of ‘top-of-the range’ for the adult atheist intelligentsia, as it would for those Harry Enfield Kevins.

    Disaffection vis-a-vis God is not a good counsellor. Just as the endless, paradigm-crippling surprises suffered so cheerfully by the evolutionists, are scarcely indicative of a grounded science.

    But then evolution has always been held by its adherents to transcend the normal definitions relating to science, as though it were metaphysical – which of course it is, under its more honest name of ‘atheism’. ‘The metaphysics of dirt-worship.’

  55. ‘Just because those things have a material source in our brain, their true origin is still divine.’

    How can ‘love’ and ‘compassion’ have a material source, when matter itself cannot? It’s not exactly helpful to say, ‘the possibilities of what God can do are endless’ is it? You’re beginning to trespass on the manor of the MacGonagle multiversers.

    Neuroscientists don’t have the foggiest idea of the nature and provenance of mind, although there have been empirical indications that there is, in fact, a mind/body dualism:

    http://science-spirituality.bl.....ly-to.html

  56. ‘Just because those things have a material source in our brain, their true origin is still divine.’ – Proton

    How can ‘love’ and ‘compassion’ have a material source, Proton, when matter itself cannot? It’s not exactly helpful to say, ‘the possibilities of what God can do are endless’ is it? You’re beginning to trespass on the manor of the MacGonagle multiversers.

    Neuroscientists don’t have the foggiest idea of the nature and provenance of mind, although there have been empirical indications that there is, in fact, a mind/body dualism:

    http://science-spirituality.bl.....ly-to.html

  57. @Barb, stop it, I’m just keeping this up because maybe I think that eventually something might go through into your head, but apparently Crhstianity has blinded you to an extent I find shoking.

    Yes, I view most things through the lens of Christianity. That’s why I don’t hold contradictory points of view on subjects and why I don’t fall for logically invalid arguments.
    Has Christianity blinded me? Probably not. Consider what the Bible states: “Look out: perhaps there may be someone who will carry you off as his prey through the philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ.”—Colossians 2:3, 6-8.

    You must be kidding. I EXPLAINED THAT already, and clearly, here:
    I want criminals punished and locked up for two reasons:
    1-The world is obviously better without them out there.
    2-To show people what happens when they break the law and prevent them for doing so.
    In any case, I want criminals punished not because they deserve it, but because societies are simply better than way.

    Criminals should be punished because they do deserve it, though. Trying to explain to a criminal that what he did wasn’t really his fault (even though it was) but you’re going to lock him up anyway for the safety of other is logically incoherent.

    I clearly believe, therefore, that laws should exist to fulfill points 1 and 2. Not because I believe no one deserves punishment I believe that criminals should be free. I have empathy for criminals, but they’re all still bad for society, and the well being of society is more important than the well being of a criminal.

    But you haven’t resolved the primary problem: if people aren’t responsible for their behavior (no free will, your argument), then why have laws and prisons? Why should a civilized society decide arbitrarily that some behaviors are wrong if, according to you, nobody is morally responsible for his or her behavior?

    You might find it hard to feel empathy and forgiveness for someone you want locked up in prision at the same time, but that’s a limitaton/contradiction imposed by your religion. I don’t put limits to my forgiveness or empathy.

    Surprisingly, the Bible does. There are sins for which there is no forgiveness. Jesus said that there is a type of sin that “will not be forgiven.”—Matthew 12:31.
    Jesus’ warning referred to willful and deliberate “blasphemy against the spirit.” There is no acquittal for this type of sin. “No, not in this system of things nor in that to come,” he added. (Matthew 12:31, 32) Those guilty of such sin will not be resurrected.

    What is blasphemy against the spirit? It emanates from the heart, revealing a malicious attitude and intent. The purposeful intent to oppose God’s holy spirit intensifies the seriousness of this sin. To illustrate: In some parts of the world, the law distinguishes between murder in the first degree and murder in the second degree on the basis of intent and the way the murder was committed, and it limits capital punishment (death) to intentional or premeditated murder.

    I know that God forgives in a large way. But his sense of justice impels him to punish those who refuse to obey his moral laws. For this reason, I do put limits on my forgiveness and empathy, realizing that people can choose their behavior accordingly.

    What’s the difference between “love” and any other sensation in our brain, like pain, hunger or joy?

    Hunger compels you to eat. Pain compels you to yell or cry. Love, on the other hand, compels you to do good to others. Especially does the Bible recommend love. “Besides all these things,” it says, “clothe yourselves with love.” As the greatest proponent of love, Jesus told his disciples: “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you.” In his Sermon on the Mount he even said: “Continue to love your enemies.” (Colossians 3:12-15; John 13:34; Matthew 5:44) Many may scoff at this, calling it weakness, but they pay a price. Science has learned that lack of love is a major factor in many mental ills and other problems.

    The British medical journal Lancet once noted: “By far the most significant discovery of mental science is the power of love to protect and to restore the mind.” Similarly, a noted stress specialist, Dr. Hans Selye, said: “It is not the hated person or the frustrating boss who will get ulcers, hypertensions, and heart disease. It is the one who hates or the one who permits himself to be frustrated. ‘Love thy neighbor’ is one of the sagest bits of medical advice ever given.”

    Hunger and pain may always be with you, but people can (and do) choose to withhold love from other people for selfish reasons.

    Love might feel mystical and confusing, but that doesn’t mean it’s inmaterial, it just means that our brain is far more complex and intrincated than you think, and love happens to be one very complex feeling. Human brains have far more synapses than there are stars in our galaxy, so you can imagine what happens when they fire to produce a feeling or memory or a desire. The posibilities are endless.

    If the possibilities are endless, then why restrict explanations to materialism?

    If our Designer created our lungs to breath, our legs to walk and our eyes to see, why is it so hard to believe that the Creator also made our brains complex enough to feel things love and compassion? Just because those things have a material source in our brain, their true origin is still divine.

    I absolutely agree with you on this. But if we are capable of feeling love and compassion and acting on those feelings, then how is it that we have no free will? Acting on feelings is free will.

  58. How can ‘love’ and ‘compassion’ have a material source, Proton, when matter itself cannot?

    Only Christians separate matter from things that emerge from matter (like feelings), but that’s only their religious bias, not something that it’s inferred from observation.

    And observation clearly indicates that our behaviour is a function of our background/circumstances (the material), and because our feelings dictate our behaviour then it’s rational to believe that feelings have a material source, not an inmaterial soul behind them (even if the ultimate origin was the Creator when it designed the human brain).

    http://science-spirituality.bl.....ly-to.html

    NDEs don’t prove that free will is real. They only prove (if they’re real) that an inmaterial soul exists, but they DON’T prove that such inmaterial soul interacts with us when we’re clinically alive.

    I’m not arguing against an inmaterial soul (I believe in it), but against the idea that such soul interacts with our material body and dictates our choices. Such thing goes against empirical evidence (an existing correlation between people’s choices and backgrounds/circumnstances).

  59. @Barb, your response didn’t add anything already discussed, it was basically you quoting the Bible and saying what you think, which is not bad but irrelevant. I personally see no reason to continue. Besides, I’m going to keep my argument alive here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....l-part-two

    Join there if you want.

  60. Proton, once again, if you want to deny free will altogether please deal honestly with the evidence from quantum mechanics since that is the empirical evidence that directly contradicts your cherry picked evidence. Declaring your no free will perception of reality to be true without honestly dealing with all the evidence is certainly not indicative of you being forthright in the matter (but then as a automaton with no free will how could you help yourself?)!

    “Thus one decides the photon shall have come by one route or by both routes after it has already done its travel”
    John A. Wheeler

    Alain Aspect speaks on John Wheeler’s Delayed Choice Experiment – video
    http://vimeo.com/38508798

    Here’s a recent variation of Wheeler’s Delayed Choice experiment, which highlights the ability of the conscious observer to effect ‘spooky action into the past’, thus further solidifying consciousness’s centrality in reality. Furthermore in the following experiment, the claim that past material states determine future conscious choices (determinism) is falsified by the fact that present conscious choices effect past material states:

    Quantum physics mimics spooky action into the past – April 23, 2012
    Excerpt: The authors experimentally realized a “Gedankenexperiment” called “delayed-choice entanglement swapping”, formulated by Asher Peres in the year 2000. Two pairs of entangled photons are produced, and one photon from each pair is sent to a party called Victor. Of the two remaining photons, one photon is sent to the party Alice and one is sent to the party Bob. Victor can now choose between two kinds of measurements. If he decides to measure his two photons in a way such that they are forced to be in an entangled state, then also Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair becomes entangled. If Victor chooses to measure his particles individually, Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair ends up in a separable state. Modern quantum optics technology allowed the team to delay Victor’s choice and measurement with respect to the measurements which Alice and Bob perform on their photons. “We found that whether Alice’s and Bob’s photons are entangled and show quantum correlations or are separable and show classical correlations can be decided after they have been measured”, explains Xiao-song Ma, lead author of the study.
    According to the famous words of Albert Einstein, the effects of quantum entanglement appear as “spooky action at a distance”. The recent experiment has gone one remarkable step further. “Within a naïve classical world view, quantum mechanics can even mimic an influence of future actions on past events”, says Anton Zeilinger.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-04-q.....ction.html

    In other words, if my conscious choices really are just merely the result of whatever state the material particles in my brain happen to be in in the past (deterministic) how in blue blazes are my choices instantaneously effecting the state of material particles into the past?,,, I consider the preceding experimental evidence to be an improvement over the traditional ‘uncertainty’ argument for free will, from quantum mechanics, that had been used to undermine the deterministic belief of materialists:

    Why Quantum Physics (Uncertainty) Ends the Free Will Debate – Michio Kaku – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFLR5vNKiSw

    footnote:

    Algorithmic Information Theory, Free Will and the Turing Test – Douglas G. Robertson – 1999
    Excerpt: Chaitin’s Algorithmic Information Theory shows that information is conserved under formal mathematical operations and, equivalently, under computer operations. This conservation law puts a new perspective on many familiar problems related to artificial intelligence. For example, the famous “Turing test” for artificial intelligence could be defeated by simply asking for a new axiom in mathematics. Human mathematicians are able to create axioms, but a computer program cannot do this without violating information conservation. Creating new axioms and free will are shown to be different aspects of the same phenomenon: the creation of new information.
    “… no operation performed by a computer can create new information.”
    http://cires.colorado.edu/~dou...../info8.pdf

  61. Proton, to give you a clue as to the monumental hurdle you are facing in quantum mechanics, free will is actually ‘built into’ quantum mechanics as one of the starting assumptions. i.e. You will literally have to overturn all of quantum mechanics in order to deny free will any objective place in our perception of, and interaction with, reality:

    An experimental test of all theories with predictive power beyond quantum theory – May 2011
    Excerpt: Hence, we can immediately refute any already considered or yet-to-be-proposed alternative model with more predictive power than this. (Quantum Theory)
    http://arxiv.org/pdf/1105.0133.pdf

    Can quantum theory be improved? – July 23, 2012
    Excerpt: Being correct 50% of the time when calling heads or tails on a coin toss won’t impress anyone. So when quantum theory predicts that an entangled particle will reach one of two detectors with just a 50% probability, many physicists have naturally sought better predictions. The predictive power of quantum theory is, in this case, equal to a random guess. Building on nearly a century of investigative work on this topic, a team of physicists has recently performed an experiment whose results show that, despite its imperfections, quantum theory still seems to be the optimal way to predict measurement outcomes.,
    However, in the new paper, the physicists have experimentally demonstrated that there cannot exist any alternative theory that increases the predictive probability of quantum theory by more than 0.165, with the only assumption being that measurement (*conscious observation) parameters can be chosen independently (free choice, free will, assumption) of the other parameters of the theory.,,,
    ,, the experimental results provide the tightest constraints yet on alternatives to quantum theory. The findings imply that quantum theory is close to optimal in terms of its predictive power, even when the predictions are completely random.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-07-quantum-theory.html

    i.e. it is found that there is a required assumption of ‘free will’ in quantum mechanics. Moreover, it was shown in the paper that one cannot ever improve the predictive power of quantum mechanics by ever removing free will as a starting assumption in Quantum Mechanics!

    Of related note as to how solid quantum mechanics is as a description of reality:

    Philosophy and Physics in the Kadison-Singer Conjecture – 21 June 2013
    Excerpt: Kadison-Singer Conjecture. Let A be a discrete maximal abelian subalgebra of B(H), the algebra of bounded linear operators on a separable Hilbert space. Let p : A -> {C} be a pure state on that subalgebra. Then there exists a pure extension p’ : B(H) -> {C} of p to all of B(H), and that extension is unique.
    Proof of this statement provides a very nice assurance, that our experiments really are enough to describe quantum systems as we understand them.
    http://www.soulphysics.org/201.....onjecture/

    Moreover, as if the preceding was not devastating enough for the ‘no free will’ position, denying free will undermines our ability to reason itself thus the ‘no free will’ position undermines itself as to being logically coherent:

    Sam Harris’s Free Will: The Medial Pre-Frontal Cortex Did It – Martin Cothran – November 9, 2012
    Excerpt: There is something ironic about the position of thinkers like Harris on issues like this: they claim that their position is the result of the irresistible necessity of logic (in fact, they pride themselves on their logic). Their belief is the consequent, in a ground/consequent relation between their evidence and their conclusion. But their very stated position is that any mental state — including their position on this issue — is the effect of a physical, not logical cause.
    By their own logic, it isn’t logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....66221.html

  62. Proton, your posts really are incoherent, and seem to be based on erroneous assumptions, assumed to be shared by all, but which are in fact highly eccentric.

    This is further leavened by your own arbitrary dismissal of the conventional assumptions of others, so that the net overall effect is that you seem to inhabit a kind of intellectual world of your own, with its own, unassailable because arbitrary reference-frame. Rather like my own one, in some respects, although mine are justified, albeit seldom in current scientific terms.

    QM seemingly seems to be a paradigm which, while extraordinarily successful in actual practice, is eschewed by the atheist Consensus, as mumbo-jumbo, in ‘actual theory(!’). So, while you would appear to be an egregious outlier in your discursive, if eccentric musings, you are scarcely alone in ignoring or marginalizing QM theory, as adverted to by Philip in its treatment of free will.

    You could be a poster boy for the atheist, ‘QM theory is mumbo-jumbo’ Consensus.

  63. @BA77:

    Let’s get straight on what free will means: Free will is the abaility to choose between options WITHOUT external forces constraining such choice in any way.

    Agreed?

    Free will does NOT mean simply “to choose”, because such reasoning is fallacious (“free will implies choosing, people choose, therefore people have free will”). That “choosing implies free will” is religiously motivated. It’s the assumption that there are no constraining forces affecting our choices. Well, empirical evidence implies the exact opposite.

    So, you say quantom mechanics needs free will (although if your concept of free will is “to choose”, then it’s irrelevant). Now let please answer this:

    If an observable correlation between people’s backgrounds/circumstances and their choices exists, can you prove free will to be true without proving that such correlation is unexistent or a coicidence?

    If you can’t prove that such correlation is unexistent or a coincidence, then it’s irrational to believe free will is true.

    Please answer that simple question directly and you’ll put my argument to rest, because it’s the most important part of my argument.

  64. @Axel

    I’m not dismissing QM, but you Christians dismiss other more important evidence, namely, that there’s a observable correlation between people’s choices and their backgrounds.

    Please respond the same question I asked BA77:

    If an observable correlation between people’s backgrounds/circumstances and their choices is observed, can you prove free will to be true without proving that such correlation is unexistent or a coicidence?

  65. Proton, if you know of another method that can get to a deeper level of reality than quantum mechanics can, please let us know. And seeing quantum mechanics does enjoy preeminence as our most accurate, foundational, description of reality, and free will is ‘built into’ quantum mechanics, then it is you that is inaccurately weighing the evidence for free will.

  66. And once again proton I point out that your position is logically incoherent:

    Sam Harris’s Free Will: The Medial Pre-Frontal Cortex Did It – Martin Cothran – November 9, 2012
    Excerpt: There is something ironic about the position of thinkers like Harris on issues like this: they claim that their position is the result of the irresistible necessity of logic (in fact, they pride themselves on their logic). Their belief is the consequent, in a ground/consequent relation between their evidence and their conclusion. But their very stated position is that any mental state — including their position on this issue — is the effect of a physical, not logical cause.
    By their own logic, it isn’t logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....66221.html

  67. Proton continues,

    Free will does NOT mean simply “to choose”, because such reasoning is fallacious (“free will implies choosing, people choose, therefore people have free will”). That “choosing implies free will” is religiously motivated.

    My reasoning isn’t fallacious. You haven’t provided one shred of evidence that it is. All you’ve done is conveniently ignored evidence that I provided that contradicted your worldview.

    Free will is freedom of choice. ““Free Will” is a philosophical term of art for a particular sort of capacity of rational agents to choose a course of action from among various alternatives.” (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/freewill/)

    You choose not to define it as noted above because you view all Christians as deluded. You allow your prejudice to cloud your objectivity.

  68. @BA77

    You’re doing what I thought you’d do: Avoiding directly adressing my main argument (you never even quoted it once)and instead say my reasoning is flawed. Nice way to circumvent the problem.

    My argument is extremely simple and straightforward. It does not depend on complicated logical constructs and doesn’t involve fallacies. Christians just can’t answer it!

  69. Proton, because quantum mechanics goes much deeper than the superficial level you are dealing with, you have no argument! Perhaps you should actually deal with what our best evidence from quantum mechanics says about reality instead of constructing imaginary strawmen?

  70. BA77

    quantum mechanics goes much deeper than the superficial level you are dealing with

    You mean that we should also ignore all macro/observable evidence for ID just because QM is embedded everywhere?

    Or you just hide behind QM in the topic of free will where it’s convinient?

    Of course we know the answer: Religious bias!

    constructing imaginary strawmen

    Describe these imaginary strawmen please, let’s see what comes out!

    As I see it, you say QM proves free will to be true. I say observational evidence proves free will to be false. They can’t both be right. However observable evidence is unavoidable and undeniable because it’s everywhere around us, unlike the blurry QM.

    The correlation I talk about is crystal clear: People from certain backgrounds and in certain circumstances are more likely to make certain specific choices than other people from different backgrounds in the same circumstances. This correlation has a sample of size 6 billion people and proves without a doubt that choices are constrained by our backgrounds.

    How does a Christian explain such correlation/pattern if the existence of free will implies that such correlation/pattern shouldn’t in principle exist?

    The only rational conclusion: Unconstrained choices don’t exist.

    QM may need “choice from an observer”, but that does not mean “unconstrained choice from an observer”! A choice is still a choice even if it’s constrained, only Christians believe choices need to be free from constraints to be called “choices”!

  71. ‘QM may need “choice from an observer”, but that does not mean “unconstrained choice from an observer”! A choice is still a choice even if it’s constrained, only Christians believe choices need to be free from constraints to be called “choices”!’

    You should write a book, post haste, before anyone else plagiarizes you, Proton. You’ll get a Nobel prize for exposing the sorry hyping that atheists, aping the Christians, have given to the ‘choice of the observer’, when they don’t allow for the possibility of his/its being constrained. For some reason, I don’t think anyone else has thought of that.

  72. Proton, there is nothing ambiguous from quantum mechanics yet, because the results refute your strawman argument, you call them blurry. Funny how Axel predicted you would do as such! I suggest you take Axel’s further advice and write a book before someone plagiarizes your “ahem’ irrefutable proof against free will.

  73. Actually, it’s a vastly more complex matter than atheists (or your particular school of deism) could get a handle on – or even QM, I believe, since the matter of supernatural grace, and the forfeiting thereof, through repeated serious sin, resulting in demonic possession, may supervene. This, in addition to the Fall (and consequent forfeiture of integrity of supernatural grace). After the Fall, virtue has, paradoxically, become a privilege, as well as a duty.

    St Paul, in one of his Epistles speaks of ‘not always being able to do things our will approves’ (not, perhaps, verbatim) – which may be an elliptical way of saying, ‘We sometimes do things our will does not approve.’ This would, I believe conform with mainstream Christian theology. Mercifully, we are not always as single-minded in our desire to sin, as we are to persevere in virtue.

    NEVERTHELESS, I don’t doubt for a moment the ultimate gift to man of free will, taught by the mainstream Christian churches. Which is also nice, in the light of QM. We don’t want any more infinite, multiverse rainbows.

    Yes, there is a paradox, since predestination is also involved, but, since eternity in hell is one of the only two choices facing us, the God I know to be compassionate beyond anything we can conceive, would not deprive us of the ultimate choice. If we go to hell, we ourselves will have chosen it.

  74. ‘A computer analysis of nearly 2 million text messages (tweets) on the online social network Twitter found that Christians use more positive words, fewer negative words and engage in less analytical thinking than atheists. Christians also were more likely than atheists to tweet about their social relationships, the researchers found.’

    Whatever atheists might make of it, this apparent slur on the exercise by Christians of analytical thinking (disproved in spades right up to the present day, of course), need, by no means be viewed as as entirely negative trait, or indeed as, effectively, other than notional.

    Indeed, it is the mix of both analytical thinking and what Aldous Huxley refers to in his essay on comparative religion as, ‘unitive thinking’ (more proper to spiritual matters and human relationships via its empathetic content), which has given Judaeo-Christian thinkers, notably scientists, such pre-eminence.

  75. Axel I don’t understand your point, you’re not refuting nor attempting to refute my argument.

    And BA77, it’s funny that yet again you don’t try to refute my argument, but either try to dismiss my reasoning.

    If you can’t refute an extremely simple argument based on clear observational evidence, then this should say something about how “strong” your position really is…

    I’m not surprised by any of this though, I’ve been following UD for months and recently signed up to discuss my views on free will, curious about the reason why so many IDs (people I thought were “the rational ones”) were also Christians (which I thought, and still think, are deluded). What I discovered after weeks of discussing free will with Barb and now with you is that I was correct in my hypothesis: One can’t believe in free will unless one ignores obvious empirical evidence to pursue delusion.

  76. Maybe they’re not refuting your argument because your argument is fallacious to begin with, Proton. You like to think everyone else but you is deluded. What if it’s the other way around?

  77. Oh but Barb, the whole world has gone mad save for Proton and his privileged widow seat view of reality.

  78. window seat view of reality

  79. I find it ironic that I presented empirical evidence of free will, which Proton ignored, simply because it doesn’t fit his “window seat of reality.” That’s cognitive dissonance for you.

  80. BA77 and yet you avoid again a response to my simple argument. I predict such response from you will never arrive.

    By the way, vjtorley aknowledged my argument here and tried to respond, so so much for your idea that QM fixes the free will problem (not that it did anyway).

    Maybe is not so wicked to think that I have a “window seat view of reality”, after all, out of everyone here, I’m the less biased. I’m don’t adhere to any religion, not even evo-religion.

    Couldn’t it be that my “view” is actually less impaired than yours and that the one deluded by religion, and not able to think straight, is you?

  81. Proton seeing as I have no free will on your view of reality then I guess I just doomed to forever be a automaton who will always oppose your views are completely absurd! And you will always be doomed to believe your insanity is rational! Go figure!

  82. BA77 LOL you have a completely messed up idea of the consequences of the falsehood of free will, no wonder you so desperately hold to it.

  83. Proton, So you are saying I can personally freely choose to believe that your view of no personal free will is coherent. Please do tell how you can hold these two opposing views at the same time without your head exploding. It is getting close to bed and I need a bedtime story similar to the man who dug a hole to china.

  84. Proton

    Your assertions are false and I’ll give you a first hand account.

    As the oldest child of five children, we grew up in a very violent house, alcohol abuse was frequent, violence was frequent and sexual abuse too. Four of us out of the five have not followed in the footsteps of our parents, we all have children now the chain is broken! Only one sibling, my younger brother did not make it, he committed suicide in 2010 due to his losing battle with drug addiction.

    So 4 out of 5 that did not follow in the footsteps of our parents, and have broken the chain makes your claim totally bogus!

    You are not bound by your circumstances only if you choose to believe that it does!

    Give this book a read, it is worth it!

    Once an Arafat man.

    http://www.amazon.com/Once-Ara.....1414334443

  85. Proton @ 80:

    I’m the less biased. I’m don’t adhere to any religion, not even evo-religion.

    Couldn’t it be that my “view” is actually less impaired than yours and that the one deluded by religion, and not able to think straight, is you?

    No, you’re clearly biased against Christianity. You’ve made that very clear in your posts. You might not claim adherence to any particular religion or creed, but you still harbor prejudices and biases like everyone else. The fact that you refuse to acknowledge evidence that proves your assertions false is one sign that you are just as deluded as the Christians you insult on these forums.

    Your entire post boils down to “I’m right, and everyone else is wrong!” All the great thinkers and philosophers who argued in favor of free will were wrong, and Proton is right. Yeah, I’d like to see some empirical evidence of that.

    Oh, wait. That’s right.

    You don’t have any empirical evidence.

  86. @Andre

    Your story does not prove free will is true for two reasons:

    1-Maybe your bad background is exactly the thing that constrained you to choose your way out of it, instead of into it again. Have you considered that?

    2-Even if you’re an “exception”, that doesn’t prove the correlation wrong. As I say here, the correlation does not need to be 100% to make free will false. It just needs to be above 0% and free will fails.

    ——————————————————

    @BA77:

    So you are saying I can personally freely choose…

    Choice is not the same as “free choice”, because a “choice” can be free (if free will is real) or constrained (if free will is false). You just assume that the first scenario is true, and worse, in your head, “choice = free choice”. That’s why you can’t make sense of my simple argument, you have your definitions all messed up!

    Please do tell how you can hold these two opposing views at the same time without your head exploding

    The reason is simple: “Choice” does NOT equal “free choice” and therefore there’s no contradiction. Maybe your head is the one that will explode, since you consider both the same thing!

    ——————————————————

    @Barb

    All your comments are the same and add nothing, why bother?

    You don’t have any empirical evidence.

    Maybe it’s invisible to you? Do you need more clear evidence?

    Think global surveys on family values. Think global surveys on habits of spending money, or on views about marriage, feminism, homosexuality, etc etc. This surveys always give results the type of “24% of people in India think negativily about marriage” or “78% of people in the UK have conservative money spending habits”, etc etc (numbers made up as example). Such global surveys are a CLEAR indicator of how backgrounds (in this case, the country and/or culture) CONSTRAIN choices on the way to live life and think about big and small things. Meaning, it shows a clear CORRELATION between certain backgrounds and beliefs/decisions.

    Is that the empirical evidence you said I didn’t have?

    How can free will explain such obvious and pervasive correlation seen everywhere around us? Do people in country X have really the “free” choice to decide about choice Y if we already know that people in that country choose Y only 4% of the time? Or 67% of the time?

    It’s useless to ignore the OBVIOUS implications of these correlations regarding the falsehood of free will.

    We may “feel” that we have free choices, but all of us are part of the statistics, and therefore the truth is obvious: We don’t really have free will.

    That doesn’t mean we’re not free to do whatever we want, we still FEEL like we’re doing whatever we want, but ultimately such actions are predetermined, and existing correlations EVERYWHERE show that.

    Is that enough evidence for you?

  87. Proton continues,

    Maybe it’s invisible to you? Do you need more clear evidence?

    No, it’s visible. I simply think that you’re interpreting it wrong.

    Think global surveys on family values. Think global surveys on habits of spending money, or on views about marriage, feminism, homosexuality, etc etc. This surveys always give results the type of “24% of people in India think negativily about marriage” or “78% of people in the UK have conservative money spending habits”, etc etc (numbers made up as example). Such global surveys are a CLEAR indicator of how backgrounds (in this case, the country and/or culture) CONSTRAIN choices on the way to live life and think about big and small things.

    And I already stated that there are both external and internal factors that affect the decision-making process.

    What you are failing to grasp is that people still make choices every single day about how to behave, whether or not they take into account these factors (consciously or unconsciously).

    You seem to be arguing that humans don’t have total freedom, which you seem to posit as a requirement for free will. This is an error on your part. Nobody has total freedom; we all have to obey various physical (and moral) laws. This does not mean that free will does not exist.

    Meaning, it shows a clear CORRELATION between certain backgrounds and beliefs/decisions.

    And how do you factor in the exceptions, like the ones I noted in this thread?

    Is that the empirical evidence you said I didn’t have?

    It’s empirical evidence, but it doesn’t really prove your point. You’re trying to state that correlation=causation, a common logical error.

    How can free will explain such obvious and pervasive correlation seen everywhere around us? Do people in country X have really the “free” choice to decide about choice Y if we already know that people in that country choose Y only 4% of the time? Or 67% of the time?

    Because they are making choices on how to behave, regardless of their circumstances or backgrounds.

    It’s useless to ignore the OBVIOUS implications of these correlations regarding the falsehood of free will.

    It’s also useless to extrapolate that because there is some corelation, this equals causation. It doesn’t.

    We may “feel” that we have free choices, but all of us are part of the statistics, and therefore the truth is obvious: We don’t really have free will.

    We actually do. Unless you wish to argue that we are all programmed like robots. Which we are not.

    That doesn’t mean we’re not free to do whatever we want, we still FEEL like we’re doing whatever we want, but ultimately such actions are predetermined, and existing correlations EVERYWHERE show that.

    Correlation does not equal causation. Period.

  88. … nor are we robots. It may be Hobson’s choice, but one is free to make the more foolish choice.

  89. @Barb

    And how do you factor in the exceptions?

    The “exceptions” you base your argument on are ILLUSIONS, artifacts of the experiments. There are NO exceptions in reality. And let me show you why:

    When a correlation is observed that, for example, “89% of people from background A choose X”, this DOESN’T MEAN that the remaining 11% are exceptions that prove free will, because what was defined as background “A” is necesarily incomplete. The “exception” is regarding a specific set of factors which were arbitrarily chosen to describe background A. But they’re NOT ALL THE FACTORS.

    This means that the remaining 11% of people who choose different are constrained by factors not included in background A. This factors can be anything not previously included in the definition of background “A”.

    Your delusion here is attributing the effect of such factors to free will, which is nonsense because when the evidence for correlations is so paramount, it’s only rational to conclude that such extra factors are ALSO part of the background (something that can be tested too, it’s not a matter of believing in it).

    Hence, you’re irrational.

    Correlation does not equal causation.

    I already refuted that in the context of free will, but you never responded to my refutal. This is a great time to refute you again, I’ll quote my previous response:

    Proton says:
    “correlation does not imply causation” is used when there could be a Z factor affecting BOTH variables (background being X and choices being Y) and generating a false correlation. However, WHAT would Z be?

    And FURTHERMORE, because these correlations, contrary to being isolated cases, are pervasive in all human experience and completely dependent on the backgrounds involved (meaning that correlations for different set of backgrounds/choices are unique), it’s outstandingly irrational to believe that there’s an unknown factor Z generating such correlations! How could a factor Z affect ALL correlations (so you can sustain your claim) and generate at the same time a set of correlations with specific non-repetitive patterns unique to them? Such thing is impossible!

    You see you HAVE to be irrational to believe in free will?

    The problem for you Barb is that you’re running out of ways to escape my arguments. The second you accepted that a correlation exists, you already HAD to believe that “Correlation does not equal causation”, because is the ONLY way to escape the implications of this correlation.

    However “Correlation does not equal causation” is not applicable to my argument because of the vast set of non-repetitive correlations which conform the empirical evidence, which makes impossible to sustain the idea that there’s a hidden factor generating the correlations. Which means that these correlations are true representations of the relationship between specific backgrounds (X) and associated choices (Y), and in turn prove that choices are constrained by our backgrounds.

    What will you come up with now to explain this away?

    Unless you wish to argue that we are all programmed like robots. Which we are not.

    Your opinion is irrelevant, what does EVIDENCE say? Besides, I never said we are programmed robots. Robots can’t feel or dream. We do.

    In any case you can’t just ignore the evidence because you don’t like where it leads. Aren’t you and ID?

  90. Proton continues,

    The “exceptions” you base your argument on are ILLUSIONS, artifacts of the experiments. There are NO exceptions in reality. And let me show you why:

    Who says they are illusions? I provided real life examples of real people. Are these people illusions, or are you delusional and irrational by refusing to acknowledge the evidence that contradicts your claims?

    When a correlation is observed that, for example, “89% of people from background A choose X”, this DOESN’T MEAN that the remaining 11% are exceptions that prove free will, because what was defined as background “A” is necesarily incomplete. The “exception” is regarding a specific set of factors which were arbitrarily chosen to describe background A. But they’re NOT ALL THE FACTORS.

    This means that the remaining 11% of people who choose different are constrained by factors not included in background A. This factors can be anything not previously included in the definition of background “A”.

    The problem is that we’ve already maintained that there are factors that affect the decision-making process. That’s nothing new. But that doesn’t mean that people don’t have free will.

    And an “arbitrarily” chosen set of factors doesn’t seem like scientific investigation. You’d also need to factor in sample size and potential biases in your subjects as well. It’s an interesting experiment that you’ve described, but it doesn’t prove your point.

    Your delusion here is attributing the effect of such factors to free will, which is nonsense because when the evidence for correlations is so paramount, it’s only rational to conclude that such extra factors are ALSO part of the background (something that can be tested too, it’s not a matter of believing in it).

    Correlation does not equal causation. Try taking a remedial course in logic sometime.

    Hence, you’re irrational.

    LOL.

    I already refuted that in the context of free will, but you never responded to my refutal. This is a great time to refute you again, I’ll quote my previous response:

    Proton says:
    “correlation does not imply causation” is used when there could be a Z factor affecting BOTH variables (background being X and choices being Y) and generating a false correlation. However, WHAT would Z be?

    No, correlation does not imply causation is a simple rule of logic. It’s used every single day, and not just when doing random statistical sampling (as you’re doing here).

    And FURTHERMORE, because these correlations, contrary to being isolated cases, are pervasive in all human experience and completely dependent on the backgrounds involved (meaning that correlations for different set of backgrounds/choices are unique),

    But you’re still ignoring the people who don’t fit into this shiny little mold you want to squeeze them into. Decision making isn’t entirely dependent on the backgrounds of individuals, because you are also ignoring factors like education, which you stated doesn’t play a role here.

    In other words, you are designing a statistical survey that confirms your beliefs. Real science doesn’t work that way.

    it’s outstandingly irrational to believe that there’s an unknown factor Z generating such correlations!

    You are aware of problems with statistical sampling, right? Rejecting the null hypothesis? Biases in terms of sample size?

    There’s nothing irrational about taking into account the fact that you cannot possibly know every single factor about every single person on this planet and how they make decisions.

    How could a factor Z affect ALL correlations (so you can sustain your claim) and generate at the same time a set of correlations with specific non-repetitive patterns unique to them? Such thing is impossible!

    My claim is that free will is freedom of choice. You may not like that definition, but it is mine. And it does conform to reality. When a person makes a decision, big or small, they are exercising their free will. According to the links I posted upthread, some scientists believe that it’s hardwired into us. Did you even bother reading those links?

    You see you HAVE to be irrational to believe in free will?

    No. What I see is someone who is desperately trying to fit people into a preconceived mold of his own making. It’s really not working.

    The problem for you Barb is that you’re running out of ways to escape my arguments.

    I could just ignore you. Of my own free will, of course.
    You haven’t responded to several of the points in my posts either, so don’t pretend to take the high ground.

    The second you accepted that a correlation exists, you already HAD to believe that “Correlation does not equal causation”, because is the ONLY way to escape the implications of this correlation.

    Correlation does not equal causation. Again, a simple principle of logic that you would do well to Google sometime.

    However “Correlation does not equal causation” is not applicable to my argument because of the vast set of non-repetitive correlations which conform the empirical evidence, which makes impossible to sustain the idea that there’s a hidden factor generating the correlations.

    It’s applicable to anyone who is doing statistics.

    Which means that these correlations are true representations of the relationship between specific backgrounds (X) and associated choices (Y), and in turn prove that choices are constrained by our backgrounds.

    Says the man who refuses to acknowledge any evidence to the contrary.

    What will you come up with now to explain this away?

    I came up with basic principles of logic, which you seem determined to ignore at all costs.

    Your opinion is irrelevant, what does EVIDENCE say? Besides, I never said we are programmed robots. Robots can’t feel or dream. We do.

    Your opinion is also irrelevant, mostly because it’s based on illogical thinking. The evidence clearly shows that people do have free will. Try reading some of the links I posted, and tell me what you think.

    In any case you can’t just ignore the evidence because you don’t like where it leads. Aren’t you and ID?

    Actually, no. We are following the evidence. And we’re using logic and common sense while doing so, which is more than I can say for you.

  91. @Barb No offense, but I’m just going to answer to people who have shown they can think for themselves instead of regurgitating the same worn out deluded arguments again and again without a glimpse of a real, well-structured argument…

    If you can describe my argument with a precision I agree with, and then describe your counter argument in a clear and concise way and show how it falsifies mine, then I’m all ears.

    If you can’t think of such structured argument, then maybe your beliefs are based on no argument at all. Am I wrong? Then show me your argument, step by step, premises and conclusion.

    Until then, I’m going to discuss my arguments with others who look like they can at least adress my argument in detail.

  92. Proton, my argument has been very clearly laid out in numerous posts in this thread, most of which you have apparently ignored.

    I posted real life examples of people overcoming what you term bad circumstances by free will, and you blithely claim that they are illusions.

    I posted a logical syllogism and you ignored that as well.

    Another poster in another thread had it right: please stop posting embarrassing arguments. You live in a world of your own making, which has little to do with reality as a whole. You choose to believe whatever you want to believe, but don’t call anyone else delusional simply because they disagree with you.

    My beliefs are based on well-reasoned evidence. Feel free to continue the discussion elsewhere. I’ll just chalk this up as a “win” in my column, since you refuse to refute my arguments.

    Oh, and pretending that you are better than everyone else doesn’t do you any favors. Your condescending attitude is amusing at best, tedious at worst.

  93. @Barb
    And yet you didn’t post any step by step argument:

    I posted real life examples of people overcoming what you term bad circumstances by free will, and you blithely claim that they are illusions.

    It seems that your entire argument FOR free will depends on the existence of exceptions. Am I right?
    (If you think I interpreted your argument wrong, please indicate with precision your step by step argument so we can refer to it in the future. please make sure you include everything you believe is evidence, but make it in the form of a concise and clear argument, word for word).

    What you fail to see Barb is that:

    1-”exceptions” only exist within an experiment with defined boundaries, under a defined number of factors.

    2-Because an experiment CAN’T include ALL factors, “exceptions” to such experiments don’t adecuately represent reality, because reality includes ALL factors.

    3-SO EXCEPTIONS ARE NOT PART OF REALITY, THEY ARE AN ARTIFACT OF THE EXPERIMENTS.

    4-FURTHERMORE, an intersection of experiments indicating correlations from different backgrounds/factors studying a specific choice always reduces or eliminates this false “exceptions”. In other words, the more factors are included in the correlation function, the more the amount of exceptions reduce, tending to zero.

    Hence, you’re not basing your argument on REAL empirical evidence, but on incomplete and flawed data instead.

    Hence, your “argument from exceptions” completely FAILS.

    Exceptions don’t exists in reality. They’re artifacts of incomplete data.

    You should do what I do Barb, and instead of wasting lines and lines saying I’m wrong, actually PROVE me wrong.

  94. Proton,

    I very rarely do this, but I’m going to have to ask you to moderate your tone a little, when addressing Barb. If you don’t wish to continue the dialogue with her, then of course you don’t have to. That is your (free) choice.

    The topic of free will is a vexed one, and it is hardly surprising that people find it hard to understand one another’s points of view, when the metaphysics runs so deep. Progress in this arena occurs very slowly, and patience is therefore necessary, on all sides.

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