Author Topic: Why We Argue With Religious People  (Read 5540 times)

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Offline nebula

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #29 on: July 28, 2013, 10:38:35 AM »
People have no control over their actions? Is this what you are arguing? If so, I smell an equivocation coming. But please do elaborate.

Sam Harris will explain it.   


Offline median

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #30 on: July 28, 2013, 11:50:24 AM »

Sam Harris will explain it.   



No, I want YOUR argument (in YOUR own words). No someone else'.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Carl Sagan

Offline Bereft_of_Faith

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #31 on: July 29, 2013, 12:12:59 AM »
I debate with religious people because it's fun and it messes with atheists' heads.

It's true.  When I read your posts, God seems to materialize before me, then I wonder 'how can I believe GOD doesn't exist?'  You confuse me and make me question reality.  Please stop  ;)
^^ Missed the point.

Missed what now?  Oh.  Finally caught it.  It only took me a week  :)

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #32 on: July 29, 2013, 02:15:56 AM »

Sam Harris will explain it.   


No, I want YOUR argument (in YOUR own words). No someone else'.

Oh no!  Someone mentioned "Free Will"!  I have no choice but to enter this thread!   ;D
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline Azdgari

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #33 on: July 29, 2013, 03:13:42 AM »
Likewise, Anfauglir.

Median, what is "free will" to you?  Presumably you believe it exists.  So, what is it and how does it work?
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Offline median

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #34 on: July 29, 2013, 12:08:44 PM »
Likewise, Anfauglir.

Median, what is "free will" to you?  Presumably you believe it exists.  So, what is it and how does it work?

I would be glad to give my exposition of what freewill is, what it means to me, what it's implications are etc (since this was a subject of great interest to me in undergrad), and I will do so after nebula provides his argument.
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #35 on: July 30, 2013, 01:54:02 AM »
Likewise, Anfauglir.

Median, what is "free will" to you?  Presumably you believe it exists.  So, what is it and how does it work?

I would be glad to give my exposition of what freewill is, what it means to me, what it's implications are etc (since this was a subject of great interest to me in undergrad), and I will do so after nebula provides his argument.

My argument (in a nutshell, which may or may not be the same as nebulas).

The brain functions by means of electrical and chemical changes.  At a given time, a particular synapse will be in a particular state.  For a given specific set of circumstances, a given change in that synapse will occur.  This change will follow specific laws: it is potentially predictable, though we may not posess the technology to do so.  Every synapse will follow the same laws to determine their changes of state, and extrapolating upwards the whole brain is therefore deterministic (albeit possibly not practically predictable).  "Free will" implies that there is some mechanism by which those electro-chemical reactions can be overruled in some way that lies outside the laws of causality. 
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline median

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #36 on: July 30, 2013, 09:59:35 AM »
As with many things in philosophy, it all depends upon how one defines the term.

http://aphilosopherstake.com/2012/07/29/free-will-why-sam-harris-needs-to-read-more-philosophy/
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Carl Sagan

Offline Azdgari

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #37 on: July 30, 2013, 04:17:30 PM »
Ready to define the term as you've used it, then?
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Offline median

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #38 on: July 31, 2013, 12:14:02 AM »

That is a Christian mandate as well:
"To be ready to give reason for the faith that is in you". 
http://biblehub.com/1_peter/3-15.htm

A reason for not having good reasons. Yes, that certainly seems to make lots of sense.
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Offline median

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #39 on: July 31, 2013, 12:16:42 AM »
Ready to define the term as you've used it, then?

No, as I stated earlier I'm waiting for nebula to respond regarding his comment that, "people have no control over their deeds."
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Carl Sagan

Offline Azdgari

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #40 on: July 31, 2013, 06:48:18 AM »
How convenient.
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #41 on: July 31, 2013, 08:05:07 AM »
Ready to define the term as you've used it, then?

No, as I stated earlier I'm waiting for nebula to respond regarding his comment that, "people have no control over their deeds."

Median, you started this thread.  You made the statements that nebula disagreed with.  One would presume that - when you made those statements - you had a specific understanding of what you meant by them.  I don't see any issue with expecting you to define your terms first - its what we would generally expect on this forum, isn't it?
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline nebula

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #42 on: July 31, 2013, 08:37:48 AM »
No, as I stated earlier I'm waiting for nebula to respond regarding his comment that, "people have no control over their deeds."

That's correct.   People have no control over what they think or do.  Most neuroscientists agree with that statement.   There is of course the appearance or perception that we have control of our thoughts and actions but this is simply an illusion.   That concludes my argument.   Neuroscience has proven we aren't in control, case closed.   

Now I will give my wooist, nondualism reason why we aren't in control.   First I will talk about it from the perspective of physicalism, which is not my view, being a metaphysical idealist.   The universe is energy, ~68% dark energy, ~27% dark matter, and ~5% observable energy/matter.   

In physicalism, that is what exists, energy.   Does it make sense to say that energy is in control of what it does or thinks, or that energy has free will, or that energy can make decisions?   The energy/matter that makes up the universe is in various forms of complexity but none it has become anything else.   The appearance of the ability to make plans, avoid danger and stuff like that indicates energy in a highly complex form but it is energy nonetheless.   If the idea of "energy making a decision" doesn't make sense to you then "a person making a decision" shouldn't make sense either.   A person can't make decisions any more than a rock or moon can.   

Let's apply Daniel Dennett style compatabalism to a moon:   "A moon obviously has free will.   Not the metaphysical notion of free will, but the kind of free will that matters to celestial bodies.   A moon demonstrates evitability.   It avoids the danger of flying off into space by choosing to stay in a nice comfortable orbit around its host planet.   This proves that a certain type of free will that matters to celestial objects exists.   It arose from the evolution of gravity." <-- That sounds rather absurd and to me it sounds just as absurd when applied to certain complex forms of energy that we call animals or people.

From the perspective of my own view of nondualist idealism, free will is an illusion because the entire universe and everything in it is an illusion.   Our very existence is an illusion.   An illusory being cannot make real choices, therefore decisions are illusory.   What evidence is there that the universe is an illusion you ask?   We can get into that but it has been discussed in other threads already.   Here again are the articles about it that I'm into:     

The first three chapters of an unfinished book on Virtual Reality Theory:

http://brianwhitworth.com/BW-VRT1.pdf

http://brianwhitworth.com/BW-VRT2.pdf

http://brianwhitworth.com/BW-VRT3.pdf

A summary of those chapters three chapters, plus a preview of an unfinished fourth chapter, plus a Q and A:

http://brianwhitworth.com/VRConjecture.pdf

Another Q and A:

http://brianwhitworth.com/VRTQuestions.pdf

A Podcast:

http://chronicle.com/article/Audio-Imagining-Our-World-as/63403/


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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #43 on: July 31, 2013, 10:25:07 AM »
I have to ask a generic free will question of anyone who says we don't have free will.

Using the above reply from nebula (and nebula, if this sounds a little impersonal, I apologize. I could have used others easily, but yours was the most recent one) as an example, was he required by his biology to write it? Was he unable to choose not to respond? Was his choice of words beyond his control? Were the various options he had when deciding to write it and actually writing it absolutely zero? And if it had to happen the way it did, what intelligent force is playing us like puppets? Because if that is the case, said force has caused me to, beyond my will, to think I am curious and hence led me to ask this question. Which I may not have any actual interest in, except I am being forced by my lack of free will to type this up and post it.

If there is no free will.

Am I being forced by my cellular makeup, my biology and my environment to ask the above questions at this moment in time and space? Was this inevitable the day I was born?

And what about the times I have written posts and then decided not to post them because I decided they were too mean or irrelevant or whatever. Was I forced by my real self at those moments to both write and then not post my responses? What could I learn from such an exercise if I don't have freewill in the first place? Why would I bother doing something I knew ahead of time I wasn't going to post. I couldn't learn anything from it, because I have no free will. And why am I asking if I have no free will?

Now of course I am not responding to what you wrote or linked to, nebula. I may have time to go into the links a little later and read them, but I don't know because, if I lack free will, whatever happens will happen. On the bright side, you can't get mad at me for not reading them if I don't, because a) I'm an illusion b) you're an illusion and c) neither of us have any choice in the matter. Except you might be exasperated because you have no choice but to get exasperated. Something the lack of free will is doing to you for fun because it wants to play around further with idea it injected into your head at the atomic level that we are all an illusion. Which isn't your fault, because you have no free will.

Having no idea whether or not I will continue this conversation or suddenly decide that computers suck and shoot mine, making further participation less likely, I do hope it is the former, even though I have no free will to have that hope, because, well, because, if I don't have free will then these words are just shooting out of my keyboard and heck, this is getting confusing. Except that was probably preordained or something, or it isn't really happening because of the illusion thingy, and I give up.

I have no freewill to do otherwise. Bummer.

Not everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

Offline median

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #44 on: July 31, 2013, 11:44:49 AM »
I have been trying to access the forum since last night, and most of this morning, and keep getting the error "Error: Resource Limit Has Been Reached" (or something like that). What does this error mean? It's frustrating.

Well, now I have to jet off to work (long day) but let me say this (very shortly) regarding the free-will debate. The professional philosophers today (as well as the not so professional ones) define that term is many different ways, which only adds to the difficulty of the subject. I don't have some staunch/absolutist idea as to how to tackle what is called the problem of free-will (sorry if this disappoints some of you). On the contrary (due to quantum indeterminacy theory, the problem of definitions, and general disagreement among professionals) I say the jury is still out, and would like to advocate a kind of agnosticism on the subject. This of course is not to say that I do not have my philosophical 'leanings' (b/c I do - which I will post when I have more time). All I'm saying for now is that I see no conclusive answer to this problem in the professional philosophical community, and therefore (like many things in philosophy) see no reason to stake a hard claim regarding it (i.e. the claim that there is no free-will, free-choice, etc).


Nebula, what do you mean by "control"? What does it mean (to you) to "have control" over ones actions? Most of the philosophical debate regarding the subject of free-will seems to hinge upon this question.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2013, 11:48:29 AM by median »
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Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #45 on: July 31, 2013, 01:57:54 PM »
Joy, another debate on free will.

Oh well, they're usually at least an enjoyable read, and it's fun to argue.  If annoying to see the same dogmatic positions presented by the usual suspects.

That's correct.   People have no control over what they think or do.  Most neuroscientists agree with that statement.   There is of course the appearance or perception that we have control of our thoughts and actions but this is simply an illusion.   That concludes my argument.   Neuroscience has proven we aren't in control, case closed.
When you say that most neuroscientists agree with your statement above, how many do you mean?  How many have actually given their opinions on the subject?  What's your source for making such a statement?  What experiments are you referring to which measured the amount of control, or lack thereof, people had over their actions?  To be blunt, this is one of the worst arguments I've ever seen on this subject, because you don't support it except with statements so general they can't even be checked.

Quote from: nebula
Let's apply Daniel Dennett style compatabalism to a moon:   "A moon obviously has free will.   Not the metaphysical notion of free will, but the kind of free will that matters to celestial bodies.   A moon demonstrates evitability.   It avoids the danger of flying off into space by choosing to stay in a nice comfortable orbit around its host planet.   This proves that a certain type of free will that matters to celestial objects exists.   It arose from the evolution of gravity." <-- That sounds rather absurd and to me it sounds just as absurd when applied to certain complex forms of energy that we call animals or people.
Of course it sounds absurd - it's almost a strawman.  Your argument is essentially "because saying moons have free will to orbit planets is absurd, saying that life-forms have free will is just as absurd".  It's not even an argument - it's just ridicule.  You find the whole concept so ridiculous that you just try to find ways to make other people think that it's ridiculous, without really stopping to think about it.

For that matter, even if free will didn't actually exist, you couldn't prove it, because you can't prove a negative.  That, I think, is the point that you and many others are failing to see.  If free will exists, it's up to the people who think it does to find evidence of it - because no amount of logic will be able to show that it doesn't exist.  In short, why should your answer to the question of free will be anything but, "show me the evidence and prove it"?

At the moment, I'm leaning towards the idea that something like free will exists within the human psyche.  Not a dice-roller or a coin-flipper that takes deterministic decisions and introduces a random element, or something purely metaphysical that can essentially ignore physical realities.  Something that acts like a joker in the deck - able to override what might seem the most rational choice, but that isn't actually random.  But I'm not knowledgeable enough about neurophysiology and neuroscience to tell what that might be.

Offline jdawg70

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #46 on: July 31, 2013, 03:52:19 PM »
Could someone describe what non-free will (or will that is not free) is?
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Offline Azdgari

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #47 on: July 31, 2013, 04:07:58 PM »
It's a physical brain set-up that creates the impression of "will" in the mind that the brain yields.  "Free" will necessarily breaks causality, Jaime's desire for a sense of it that doesn't notwithstanding.
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Offline LoriPinkAngel

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #48 on: July 31, 2013, 04:14:10 PM »
Sam Harris will explain it.   

I would really like to watch this but my migraines don't allow me to focus that long.
It doesn't make sense to let go of something you've had for so long.  But it also doesn't make sense to hold on when there's actually nothing there.

Offline median

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #49 on: July 31, 2013, 05:09:46 PM »
Sam Harris will explain it.   

I would really like to watch this but my migraines don't allow me to focus that long.

There's nothing to watch. It's just speech audio.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Carl Sagan

Offline Doubt

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #50 on: July 31, 2013, 06:36:10 PM »
I had to stop listening because it seemed like he was trying to have it both ways.   Why take such a highly unconventional stance if you are just going to hedge?   :?

Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #51 on: July 31, 2013, 10:57:36 PM »
"Free" will necessarily breaks causality, Jaime's desire for a sense of it that doesn't notwithstanding.
I think this is a semantics issue.  I don't define free will the same way as you do, and therefore your declaration that it breaks causality is not necessarily true for anyone's definition but your own.

I believe you define free will as a supernatural ability - the ability to make decisions that ignore causality.  I don't define it that way.  I define it as the ability to make a decision between multiple options (as opposed to being constrained so there is only one option).  Whether or not I would make the same choice if someone rewound the universe is irrelevant, since it's pure speculation that nobody can possibly test.  What matters is whether the result of the decision was preordained or not.  And I don't think we understand enough about the brain to be able to say, "yes, it was preordained with no option but the one that actually happened".  Yeah, sure, we can sort of trace neuron activity, but we've only been seriously studying the brain for a couple of decades at most - and it's an incredibly complicated organ.  You guys might be confident that what we've already discovered rules out free will; I am not.

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #52 on: August 01, 2013, 12:56:42 AM »
^^^ Agreed.

A world without free will wouldn't need hundreds of different car models, thousands of different colors of fingernail polish, many dozens of kinds of cereal, more than one channel on TV or even red AND black licorice.

There is the free will of the physical brain, the free will of the bible, the free will of psychology. And philosophy. Plus probably several dozen other versions. If there is none, there is nothing for any of us to be confused about.

Methinks we need to get some definitions down pat before we start arguing this too deeply. Hopefully we're free to do that.

Not everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #53 on: August 01, 2013, 04:59:26 AM »
I believe you define free will as a supernatural ability - the ability to make decisions that ignore causality.  I don't define it that way.  I define it as the ability to make a decision between multiple options (as opposed to being constrained so there is only one option).  Whether or not I would make the same choice if someone rewound the universe is irrelevant, since it's pure speculation that nobody can possibly test.  What matters is whether the result of the decision was preordained or not. 

I enirely agree that we can't rewind time.  But the point of my "save game universe" thought experiment has always been this:

The situation is that at a particular moment in time, you have a complete, universe-sized set of variables.  On the personal front, you will have all your memories, all your preferences, the thought that last was in your brain.  Your preferences will be at a particular state, your bodily functions, your needs, your physiology.  In your immediate environment, you will a specifc level of light, heat, gravity, odour, music, and so forth.  In a particular situation, all the variables are - at that moment - fixed.  You could say there are no "variables", just specifics.

The solely causal view of the universe is that in a particular set of circumstances, a particular thing will happen.  All the physical laws that exist say that state A, with input B, will inevitably lead to output C.  In an entirely deterministic universe, that would be the case.  Free will would not exist (though the illusion of it might), it could NOT exist.  A leads to B leads to C, with no opportunity for deviation.

The wrinkle is that there are quantum-type events that add miniscule random factors - a wuantum blip in a neurone firing would lead to a slightly different result - but, crucially, an identical blip would lead to an identical result in the same neuron.  So because of tiny random factors, the result will not be predictable - but is still deterministic once the random effect becomes defined.  Free wil still does not exist (though again, the illusion of it does, and more justifiably), but still there is nothing chosen there.  The result switched from being determined, to being random.

The free will that is being proposed in this situation is that there is some mechanism by which a very specific set of circumstances can be in some way lead to two or more non-random outcomes.  And that's the bit I just can't grok. 

Even moving to the metaphysical level, I can't grasp it.  Even if there is a soul, or a mind, or whatever - some non-causal thing that can in some way make a genuine choice as to how to direct a thought or action, so far as I can tell that simply leads to many more problems than it solves.  How exactly does this mind make those decisions?  That mind has the same data to work from, it has the same preferences, it has the same history and character.....what is it about that mind that enables it to make a genuine non-random choice?  How does that work?  That's the part that I always get stuck on when we hit free will - how that non-random decision can come from a defined set of circumstances.

It's why I do not believe free will exists, in the sence that anyone can REALLY choose what they will do next.  But to tie it back to the OP, there is still a point to arguing with the religious: every time we interact, we change their variables slightly.  We add to their memories, we alter their environment a little.  They will never again experience the exact same set of circumstances, but the next time they are in a similar environment, their internal state will be slightly different - so their (determined) outcome at that point will be slightly different to what it would have been if we had NOT interacted with them.

Of course, the glaring elephant in the room is that without free will, we do not - CAN not - "choose" to interact with them in the first place!  The illusion of free will is so persistent that even though I am convinced of its non-existence, I still still mostly operate as if it were real.

But what I will say is this: when I am able to stop and consider, and examine the world, and look at the "choices" made by the people in it (from the trivial to the huge).....viewing those choices as the inevitable result of their environment and history makes them a whole lot more understandable than viewing them as genuine choices, and trying to understand why people would make such a free choice in those circumstances.  I realise that that is not in any way a conclusive proof, but I have found that the non-free-will hypothesis seems to answer a whole lot more questions about the world than the free-will hypothesis does.

Not least: why this debate keeps on keeping on with the same usual suspects each time!!   ;)  ;D
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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #54 on: August 01, 2013, 09:10:21 AM »
A world without free will wouldn't need hundreds of different car models, thousands of different colors of fingernail polish, many dozens of kinds of cereal, more than one channel on TV or even red AND black licorice.

Yes. It would. You just need a fuck-ton of different brains, which we have.

Our "free will" isn't what makes you and I have different tastes. It is our genetics and upbringing.
You believe evolution and there is no evidence for that. Where is the fossil record of a half man half ape. I've only ever heard about it in reading.

Offline nebula

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #55 on: August 01, 2013, 09:19:18 AM »
I have to ask a generic free will question of anyone who says we don't have free will.

Using the above reply from nebula (and nebula, if this sounds a little impersonal, I apologize. I could have used others easily, but yours was the most recent one) as an example, was he required by his biology to write it? Was he unable to choose not to respond? Was his choice of words beyond his control?

Yes to those three but for the first one it wasn't just my biology that required me to write it.   It was also my whole personal history and environmental conditioning.   Also, since we are talking about that post, I have to say that I was using the word 'energy' wrong.   For example, in physicalism, the 4.9% observable part of the universe is matter, not 'energy' or 'energy/matter'(<-confusion).   Even though energy can be converted into matter and matter can be converted into energy, you can't just use those words interchangeably as if they are the same thing.  I learned that after writing that post.   

Were the various options he had when deciding to write it and actually writing it absolutely zero?

I will rephrase that question as "was there a 0% chance it could have gone differently?"

No, not 0% due to quantum indeterminacy but pretty close to zero.   The probability that it could have gone differently is probably something like 1/googolplex.   There is also that same probability that you can walk through a wall without damaging it, if all of the atoms in your body were to tunnel through the wall at the same time.     

And if it had to happen the way it did, what intelligent force is playing us like puppets? Because if that is the case, said force has caused me to, beyond my will, to think I am curious and hence led me to ask this question. Which I may not have any actual interest in, except I am being forced by my lack of free will to type this up and post it.

A paper mache asteroid or moon can be put on a string and used in a puppet show.   So what is playing actual asteroids and moons like puppets?   Physics and chemistry.  Likewise that is what is playing us like puppets but with us and other lifeforms there is also biology, genetics etc.   Your lack of free will isn't forcing you to do anything any more than a moon's lack of free will is forcing it to do anything.   

If there is no free will.

Am I being forced by my cellular makeup, my biology and my environment to ask the above questions at this moment in time and space? Was this inevitable the day I was born?

Yeah, it was pretty much inevitable, but like I said not 100%.   There was an infinitesimally small chance it could have gone differently.

And what about the times I have written posts and then decided not to post them because I decided they were too mean or irrelevant or whatever. Was I forced by my real self at those moments to both write and then not post my responses? What could I learn from such an exercise if I don't have freewill in the first place? Why would I bother doing something I knew ahead of time I wasn't going to post. I couldn't learn anything from it, because I have no free will. And why am I asking if I have no free will?

Please define 'real self.'

Now of course I am not responding to what you wrote or linked to, nebula. I may have time to go into the links a little later and read them, but I don't know because, if I lack free will, whatever happens will happen. On the bright side, you can't get mad at me for not reading them if I don't, because a) I'm an illusion b) you're an illusion and c) neither of us have any choice in the matter. Except you might be exasperated because you have no choice but to get exasperated. Something the lack of free will is doing to you for fun because it wants to play around further with idea it injected into your head at the atomic level that we are all an illusion. Which isn't your fault, because you have no free will.

Having no idea whether or not I will continue this conversation or suddenly decide that computers suck and shoot mine, making further participation less likely, I do hope it is the former, even though I have no free will to have that hope, because, well, because, if I don't have free will then these words are just shooting out of my keyboard and heck, this is getting confusing. Except that was probably preordained or something, or it isn't really happening because of the illusion thingy, and I give up.

I have no freewill to do otherwise. Bummer.

Why is it a bummer?   You have pointed out one of the reasons why it isn't a bummer.   I can't get made at you and I also can't get mad at myself.   So it is sort of the key to forgiveness of yourself and others, which is a good thing.   

Offline nebula

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #56 on: August 01, 2013, 09:35:36 AM »
Nebula, what do you mean by "control"? What does it mean (to you) to "have control" over ones actions? Most of the philosophical debate regarding the subject of free-will seems to hinge upon this question.

I mean it in the most basic, dictionary sense of the word. 

Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #57 on: August 01, 2013, 01:34:41 PM »
I enirely agree that we can't rewind time.  But the point of my "save game universe" thought experiment has always been this:
I'm only quoting this part to save space, but I did read all of it.

I'm not denying that you have a point regarding determinism.  My point is that we simply don't know enough about how quantum randomness and classical determinism interact yet to be able to say, "yes, free will exists" or "no, free will doesn't exist".  There's a reason that scientific methodology requires us to keep an open mind[1] on things, even if they seem cut and dried in a logical sense.

That being said, I also don't think we can say that even if we did have such a save-state, that things would proceed in a linear, deterministic fashion (after accounting for random factors).  What happens if you have a situation where something is approaching a decision gate, and it's equally possible that it will go through either (or any) of the gates?  Say it goes through one gate, then you rewind and predict that it will go through that same gate?  How can you be sure, without actually doing it, that it actually would work that way?  There's a reason that we make predictions, then run experiments and tests to check those predictions, and repeat those experiments and tests to remove as much doubt as possible.

I'm well aware that you're convinced it would work the way you think it would.  Indeed, that's part of the problem.  You're convinced - and so you favor that result, even though it exists only in your mind.

But what I will say is this: when I am able to stop and consider, and examine the world, and look at the "choices" made by the people in it (from the trivial to the huge).....viewing those choices as the inevitable result of their environment and history makes them a whole lot more understandable than viewing them as genuine choices, and trying to understand why people would make such a free choice in those circumstances.
Granted, and that's a good way of looking at things.  But the 800-pound gorilla here is that many people don't make choices based on rationally considering them and picking the best option.  They make choices that are influenced by factors which are deterministic in nature, and so make the decision look deterministic.  A lot of people have very little choice in the decisions they make because of factors outside their control. 
 1. Before anyone jumps on this, I'm not referring to things that have lots of facts supporting or contradicting them.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2013, 01:36:47 PM by jaimehlers »