Author Topic: Why We Argue With Religious People  (Read 6054 times)

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #58 on: August 01, 2013, 02:34:40 PM »
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.

This is obviously a highly contentious issue, and I know better than to get in a pissing match with you AP, but I have to ask this. How could our upbringing ever differ if there is no free will? The tiny variations in humans via genetics don't seem adequate to explain all the language, social, structural and economic differences between societies, let alone individuals.  Does the level of melatonin and my blood type and hair and eye color and ability to taste the bitterness in brussels sprouts also enough to cause me to prefer Fords over Chevy's?

And do you have the free will to try convincing me I don't have any, or is it beyond your control?

When I found out my brother had been diagnosed as a diabetic, I stopped eating junk food, lost weight and otherwise improved my lifestyle. Right then and there. Yes that is environmental, but I had the choice to assume I was immune to diabetes and keep on keeping on. My history of taking care of myself prior to that was non-existent. But for whatever reason, my brother's diagnosis scared me enough to change my ways. My other brother got the same information, but still eats poorly. Why is there no free will in either case?

Anyway, I've read both sides of the issue, and obviously fallen on the side the thinks there is at least some free will. Is there anything that you could recommend I read that demonstrates your side of the issue? Something that might be more persuasive?  I ask, hoping that your genetics and upbringing make it possible for you to give me a useful response.

But of course, given my genetics and my upbringing, I don't have the free will to change my mind anyway. But you can try.  :)
Not everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #59 on: August 01, 2013, 03:53:44 PM »
Sam Harris will explain it.   

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

I listened to it twice while doing other things, partly because it was very interesting, and partly because Sam Harris has a pleasant voice. I usually avoid getting into deep philosophical arguments because they never go anywhere. Let me see if I can give you a plain language summary. It will get confusing because I have to say "we" meaning the person, and the brain, and the thoughts, etc.

We believe that we are in charge of what we think and do, but we really are not. There is research on the brain that shows that most of the stuff in there happens and we are completely unaware of it. Some things happen in our brains, creating thoughts and desires before we are even aware that we have the thought or desire. By the time we are conscious of wanting to do something, it is because chemicals in the brain already made the choice.

So, for example, I want some ice cream. Before I thought that, somewhere in my brain, some cells were creating the desire for me to want ice cream. I did not make the cells do that. I was not conscious of the cells doing that. So, I don't know exactly why I want ice cream, but I do want some. So, I go to the store and get some and eat it.

If anyone asked my why I went to the store and got ice cream, I would not say that there were these chemicals in my brain telling my cells to give me the desire for ice cream. I might say, I saw this commercial and the ice cream looked so good, and it's hot, so I went and got some. So it seems like I had free will, but it was my brain cells, not the conscious "me".

He gets into some other stuff about morality and crime that is also interesting, but that is the first basic point.
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

Offline meo

Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #60 on: August 01, 2013, 04:30:50 PM »
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? 

I thought what you said was very interesting, and I spent a lot of time thinking about it. After a while, I found myself actually hard to imagine such a scenario.

In reality, everything changes by the second, I can not think of a scenario where one situation will remain the same forever making it possible to go through either gates. When we reach a stalemate at decision making, we do not just randomly "go through one of the gates", what happens is we would stuck there, until something influences us to make the decision.

Think of it like a pole standing up on it's own. When everything's balanced(equal), won't it just stand there and not fall? Under what circumstance would it equally fall either left or right, when everything's equal(wind speed from both sides blowing it, flatness of the ground, etc etc)? Won't it just stay equilibrium until the situation's changed?

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #61 on: August 01, 2013, 05:46:44 PM »
Can someone from the Sam Harris school of thought put the following scenarios in perspective.

Both really happened to me.

I was hiking alone in the woods, off the trail, when I came to an 80 foot high cliff that was between me and where I wanted to go. Straight up. As an experienced rock climber, I looked at it and decided I could scale said cliff. Probably. So I started climbing. I got up about 60 feet and got to a place where I either had to climb back down and try some other way up or lunge off the ledge I was standing on, grab a rock that was otherwise out of reach, and hope that I could continue climbing from that point on. If I lunged that direction and survived, I would not be able to return to where I was standing if I got stuck again. I had a clear choice.

I was in no hurry. It didn't really matter if I got to where I was headed. I had chosen my destination arbitrarily. I was deep in the wilderness, and could go any direction and have a nice hike. The clearly intelligent thing to do would have been, right then and there, to climb back down and go another way, or to another destination if necessary. Instead, I lunged, trusting my instincts (which I know in hindsight weren't worth a hoot) and in spite of my stupidity, succeeded in climbing on up the cliff. I spent the rest of the day kicking myself in the ass for doing something so stupid, and I keep that day in mind whenever I am confronted with serious decisions. I helps me keep things in perspective.

Anyway, would Sam Harris say that the stupid part of me wasn't the me I am aware of, but the rest of me, the non-conscious me? Would he say that I had no choice but to do the stupid thing, because some part of me made the decision to do dumb stuff without consulting that part of me I am most familiar with? Would he say that my genes and upbringing were the only factors in my decision? Would he say I got mad at myself, even though I lack free will, because that was a part of my genes and upbringing?

Another scenario, a brief one. I once, and only once, found myself so angry at another person that had said individual been within reach, I felt for a minute that I would have killed. Then I caught myself, realized what I was contemplating, and burst out laughing. At myself. Because I knew there was no way I could kill another person, no matter how mad I was. So for a minute I wanted to kill, but at no time during the rest of my life have I ever considered that option. And when I did consider it, I recognized it as so unlike me that I laughed.

Either I have the genes and upbringing not to kill, or I have the genes and upbringing to kill. If I don't have the genes and upbringing to kill, why did I contemplate that action for that one minute? If I have no free will and I am not inclined to kill, I shouldn't have the free will to even contemplate such action. Because I'm not really me in the first place.

I fully understand that there are a lot of behind the scenes going on in our brains. I have read extensively on current brain research. But that doesn't mean that the part of us that we identify as us and that we consider our conscious being is not capable of having input. There may be dozens of other factors. But to assume that our conscious selves therefore have no say in any of it seems a bit extreme.
Not everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #62 on: August 01, 2013, 06:52:45 PM »
^^^^I am not of any "school of thought" on this. I just listened to the piece. But I think Sam Harris would say that everything we become conscious of thinking, and therefore everything we do as a result of that thought, is based on things that we are not aware of.

Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #63 on: August 01, 2013, 06:59:40 PM »
I don't have a dog in this race, but it's interesting none-the-less.

Perhaps this helps. It's from Harris's blog and is along the lines of PP's question. Kinda, sorta, maybe.

Quote
Might free will somehow be required for goodness to be manifest? How, for instance, does one become a pediatric surgeon? Well, you must first be born, with an intact nervous system, and then provided with a proper education. No freedom there, I’m afraid. You must also have the physical talent for the job and avoid smashing your hands at rugby. Needless to say, it won’t do to be someone who faints at the sight of blood. Chalk these achievements up to good luck as well. At some point you must decide to become a surgeon—a result, presumably, of first wanting to become one. Will you be the conscious source of this wanting? Will you be responsible for its prevailing over all the other things you want but that are incompatible with a career in medicine? No. If you succeed at becoming a surgeon, you will simply find yourself standing one day, scalpel in hand, at the confluence of all the genetic and environmental causes that led you to develop along this line. None of these events requires that you, the conscious subject, be the ultimate cause of your aspirations, abilities, and resulting behavior. And, needless to say, you can take no credit for the fact that you weren’t born a psychopath.

Of course, I’m not saying that you can become a surgeon by accident—you must do many things, deliberately and well, and in the appropriate sequence, year after year. Becoming a surgeon requires effort. But can you take credit for your disposition to make that effort? To turn the matter around, am I responsible for the fact that it has never once occurred to me that I might like to be a surgeon? Who gets the blame for my lack of inspiration? And what if the desire to become a surgeon suddenly arises tomorrow and becomes so intense that I jettison my other professional goals and enroll in medical school? Would I—that is, the part of me that is actually experiencing my life—be the true cause of these developments? Every moment of conscious effort—every thought, intention, and decision—will have been caused by events of which I am not conscious. Where is the freedom in this

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool -- Richard Feynman
You are in a maze of twisty little religions, all alike -- xyzzy

Offline johnnyb1871

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #64 on: August 01, 2013, 10:43:06 PM »
There is no need to argue with anyone.
Christians do have the right to try and get you to believe in what they say and the truth of GOD.
Many people are wrong on both sides of the debate one is if you chose not to believe in  GOD,then you have a choice not to accept Jesus as well.
Christians do their part in tiring to save a man's soul will each and everyone one of use have.
No other creature on this planet is advance as man.
We are unique creations.
I have noticed that since I was a child that each year they say planet is much older than the thought it went from millions of years to 500 million years old.
I read a story a few months ago I woud like to share with a of you
a man bought some dinosaur bones and sent it to Arizona State University to be carbon dated.
He never told them what kind of bones he had sent them.
when he got the results back they were only 7000 years old.

http://www.angelfire.com/mi/dinosaurs/carbondating.html


I think man is trig to outsmart itself we all have our opinions and each of us is entitled to have one,but I have learned don't trust what scientist say 99% of the time they are wrong.
Don't buy into the first thing you hear for fools will follow other fools.

One other thing I want to mention GOD never said all men were created equal.
Abraham Lincoln said that right before the civil war and it took another 100 years for African Americans to vote.   

I am a christian man  I will not push my religion on anyone that does not want to here,but if any of you ask I will tell you  what I know.

love thy fellow man that's the words I go by.


 

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #65 on: August 02, 2013, 12:24:07 AM »
Welcome to the forum, johnnyb.

Rather than stray from the topic of this thread into a debate about carbon dating, I'll create a new thread on that topic in the Evolution & Creationism subforum. See you there if you're interested in continuing this.
Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
--Marcus Aurelius

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #66 on: August 02, 2013, 12:31:41 AM »
Welcome johnnyb1871

I apparently don't have the freewill not to welcome you, so hello  ;D

We get into this discussion every once in a while. To nobodies satisfaction. But I'm starting to realize that all the stupid stuff I've done isn't my fault, and now I'm mad. Who would do such a thing to me?

Just kidding. This question of free will is not likely to be solved to everyones satisfaction.

Hey johnnyb, if you're thinking about sticking around for awhile, go to the intro section and tell us a little about yourself. And while I don't think too many of us have questions about christianity, we enjoy discussing various issues/ biblical disagreements, etc. with believers.

Oh, and the dinosaur bone age thingy? Creationists lied to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History when requesting samples of dinosaur fossils. They were provided with very small amounts of fossil chips to test. They were warned that the fossils had shellac preservative and other contaminants, and the creationists said that didn't matter. They then sent the fossil bits and pieces to the University of Arizona. People there told the creationists that they could not get accurate dates because the samples were highly contaminated with various substances, such as the aforementioned shellac. The creationists said that was okay, go ahead and do it. So the university did. And they got their weird dates.

However, they went on to describe the bones that they said were dated, and the bones they described could not have been the fossils given to them by Carnegie. Because they described non-fossilized bones, and Carnegie clearly gave them rock fossils. And they did not publish all of the numbers given them by the the U of A, because some of the numbers were much older and would have been inconvenient to mention. And they refused to release the lab numbers that would have gone along with the results, claiming that they didn't want to release confidential information. But the University of Arizona has said they do not consider the lab numbers confidential, so there is no reason not to release them. Also, a whole bunch on the items sampled showed dates of 39,000 plus years. Which is exactly what all items tested that are over that age show. Because that is the upper limit of carbon dating. Something that is actually 100,000,000 years old will show the same date if carbon tested, because there is no way to measure beyond that age using carbon dating. There are other methods of dating older material that can give accurate ages, but carbon dating isn't one of them.

But if it is important for you to believe that you guys have found the smoking gun and have proof that dinosaurs were alive up until a couple of weeks ago, you go right ahead. Belief does that to a person, and those of us unencumbered by awkward realities understand. You go ahead and keep telling that story, even though it isn't true, because that commandment about not lying doesn't apply when you don't want it to.

Wright posted while I was writing this. If you would like to continue the discussion, one of us will start a thread in the Evolution & Creationism thread for you. Right now I'm not in the mood to cut out what I just wrote, even though it is off topic.

The mods may feel differently. Such is life. Lacking free will, I have no control over the part of me that did this. Admonish it, not me.  ;)
Not everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

Offline LoriPinkAngel

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #67 on: August 02, 2013, 12:45:08 AM »
So why argue with people & call them stupid if they have no control over what they are thinking?  And how can anyone consider oneself superior since they also have no control over their thinking?  So I'm actually no better than the hate spewing assholes at Westboro Baptist because I don't actually choose not to be like them any more than they choose to be like them?  I will remember this defense if I decide (since I have no choice) to murder somebody.  Bollocks.
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 LoriPinkAngel

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #68 on: August 02, 2013, 12:48:05 AM »
There is no need to argue with anyone.
Christians do have the right to try and get you to believe in what they say and the truth of GOD.
Many people are wrong on both sides of the debate one is if you chose not to believe in  GOD,then you have a choice not to accept Jesus as well.
Christians do their part in tiring to save a man's soul will each and everyone one of use have.
No other creature on this planet is advance as man.
We are unique creations.
I have noticed that since I was a child that each year they say planet is much older than the thought it went from millions of years to 500 million years old.
I read a story a few months ago I woud like to share with a of you
a man bought some dinosaur bones and sent it to Arizona State University to be carbon dated.
He never told them what kind of bones he had sent them.
when he got the results back they were only 7000 years old.

http://www.angelfire.com/mi/dinosaurs/carbondating.html


I think man is trig to outsmart itself we all have our opinions and each of us is entitled to have one,but I have learned don't trust what scientist say 99% of the time they are wrong.
Don't buy into the first thing you hear for fools will follow other fools.

One other thing I want to mention GOD never said all men were created equal.
Abraham Lincoln said that right before the civil war and it took another 100 years for African Americans to vote.   

I am a christian man  I will not push my religion on anyone that does not want to here,but if any of you ask I will tell you  what I know.

love thy fellow man that's the words I go by.

So I don't want to see a single attack on this post because he has no choice but to think this way...
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.

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #69 on: August 02, 2013, 12:49:33 AM »
There is no need to argue with anyone.
Christians do have the right to try and get you to believe in what they say and the truth of GOD.

Actually, in the US at least that depends on the venue. For instance, despite repeated violations by students, administrators and teachers, Christians (or believers in any other religion) have no such right to do so in public schools.

Quote
Many people are wrong on both sides of the debate one is if you chose not to believe in  GOD,then you have a choice not to accept Jesus as well.

Glad you can admit that at least some religious people are wrong. Are you willing to consider you might be one of them?


Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
--Marcus Aurelius

Offline Traveler

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #70 on: August 02, 2013, 01:13:04 AM »
...if you chose not to believe in  GOD,then you have a choice not to accept Jesus as well...

Without getting into the free will debate, I have to ask how you think belief is a choice. I can't force myself to believe in your god, or a supernatural jesus, anymore than I can force myself to believe in unicorns. Seriously. There is absolutely nothing in my five decades plus of experience that even begins to suggest your god exists, so how can you say that I can choose not to believe? To me, the existence of the biblical god is an absurd concept. No more than a story. And if I could choose to believe in an invisible being, without any evidence whatsoever, why would I choose yours?
If we ever travel thousands of light years to a planet inhabited by intelligent life, let's just make patterns in their crops and leave.

Offline median

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #71 on: August 02, 2013, 01:55:28 AM »
Many people are wrong on both sides of the debate one is if you chose not to believe in  GOD,then you have a choice not to accept Jesus as well.

Welcome to the forum. I was a "born again" Christian for nearly 20 years and used to make a lot of your same arguments until I realized they are irrational and inconsistent with the way we think in daily life. Let's take a look at your reasoning here.

You say above that we can choose not to believe in God, but belief doesn't work that way. Can you choose to believe a big flying pink elephant is in your room?? You can't really believe that without being convinced. Belief is not a choice. 

Christians do their part in tiring to save a man's soul will each and everyone one of use have.

How do you know this?

No other creature on this planet is advance as man.
We are unique creations.

Lots of creatures on the planet are 'unique' b/c they can do things we humans cannot. But being unique doesn't say anything about where we came from or how we got here.

I have noticed that since I was a child that each year they say planet is much older than the thought it went from millions of years to 500 million years old.

Did you know that science (and scientific discoveries) are not about absolute truth? That's right. Science is always learning more. That is the point of science - making discoveries, predictions, and demonstrating things. The fact that we could be wrong about certain things doesn't mean science is unreliable (as you seem to be implying). You rely upon science for lots of things - why not just admit when you don't know something and go look for the answer by researching (instead of assuming an old book has the truth)?

I read a story a few months ago I woud like to share with a of you
a man bought some dinosaur bones and sent it to Arizona State University to be carbon dated.
He never told them what kind of bones he had sent them.
when he got the results back they were only 7000 years old.

http://www.angelfire.com/mi/dinosaurs/carbondating.html


Have you talked to real scientists working in the field to get the other side? If you haven't, then you might be practicing something called Confirmation Bias (which is where you assume the bible is true and then ignore any contrary evidence to it because you WANT it to be true). This is bad reasoning and dishonest. You should intensely (with an open mind) study both sides. Maybe start here:

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CD/CD011.html


I think man is trig to outsmart itself we all have our opinions and each of us is entitled to have one,but I have learned don't trust what scientist say 99% of the time they are wrong.
Don't buy into the first thing you hear for fools will follow other fools.

This is exactly what we say about religious people who believed the bible's claims without critically researching it first (like you would any other religious text). Regarding science, you think science is wrong 99% of the time? Where did you get this from because it is just plain FALSE. The very computer you are using was made using correct science. Tons of medical science is correct most of the time (otherwise people wouldn't rely upon it). It seems you are just ignorant, sorry.

One other thing I want to mention GOD never said all men were created equal.
Abraham Lincoln said that right before the civil war and it took another 100 years for African Americans to vote.

Are you endorsing racism here?

It would make sense because the God in your bible condones and endorses slavery and inequality. God, in the bible, gives very specific instructions as to how to obtain slaves, how to keep them, and that you can beat them (Exodus 21, Leviticus 25). That's not loving or just or moral at all.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2013, 02:00:35 AM by median »
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Carl Sagan

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #72 on: August 02, 2013, 02:58:59 AM »
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 mindon things, even if they seem cut and dried in a logical sense.

Hence this part:

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.

As I've always said, when I'm talking "free will", I'm looking at it from the definition that it means that something can make an informed and deliberate choice about an action, accessing environment and past experience, but not deterministically fettered by them.  I truly can't understand how that could work, not even in a gross theoretical way.

.....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. 

How?   ;)

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.

None taken.   ;D 

But consider: my view that there is NO free will is in accordance with what we DO currently know of causality and electro-chemical reactions.  That A ALWAYS follows B, given C, apart from random quantum events D.  I favour a conclusion that all the current evidence supports.  You favour a result that - currently - is unsupported by the vast majority of what we know.

Do you feel that your convictions that there IS free will - despite the evidence against - is a similar problem to the one you believe I have?
« Last Edit: August 02, 2013, 03:03:43 AM by Anfauglir »
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 Anfauglir

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #73 on: August 02, 2013, 03:23:14 AM »
I fully understand that there are a lot of behind the scenes going on in our brains. I have read extensively on current brain research. But that doesn't mean that the part of us that we identify as us and that we consider our conscious being is not capable of having input. There may be dozens of other factors. But to assume that our conscious selves therefore have no say in any of it seems a bit extreme.

I can understand that.  But by what mechanism does your conscious self interact with things?  Leaving aside the electrochemical processes, your "self" has memories, preferences, characteristics.  Is it capable of stepping outside of the self it has become over the last (mumble)-decades to do something entirely undirected by its past?

I have a feeling that people tend to Act, or to React - and that normally, people do the latter.  Things happen, and they react to them - what you might call the basic determinism response.  Reactions that are broadly predictable, in essence throwbacks to our tiny mammalian ancestors Fight or Flight responses.  In a very real sense, most of the time we do "act without thinking", though I would say that would more correctly be that we "REact without thinking".  cf, your momentary desire to kill.

But sometimes (though not too often, I fear) we find outselves consciously weighing the options.  I hope you'll understand what I mean if I talk about the awareness of thinking?  The times when self-awareness creeps in and we can stop and think - as indeed you did when you "realised" you wouldn't kill, and laughed.

Much as I hate to say it, I suspect that if in that moment of reacting you had had a weapon in hand, and been next to the object of your anger, you would indeed have walloped them, despite the rational "you" being a person who would never normally consider such an action.

This self-aware thinking is, I would agree, the level at which free will (should it exist) be in operation.  Certainly it feels, when we are thinking about thinking, that we are weighing options and evaluating.  But I still don't get it.  What is that "self" evaluating against? 

You've said yourself that "I knew there was no way I could kill another person".  Surely if you believed free will existed, you COULD choose to kill - to override everything that had come to make you "you" at that point, to cast aside everything that was and is and make that truly free decision?

If free will really exists, I fear you must accept that those terrible choices ARE always available to us.  If we ARE constrained, if there are decision routes that are indeed forever closed off to "us", that simply could never happen, then free will takes an almighty blow - because you are arguing that a deterministic process is constraining what "choices" you will make, that the past and your enviroment can and do outweigh your "decisions".
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 Mrjason

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #74 on: August 02, 2013, 05:13:01 AM »
I'm not quite sure I've understood what you are saying Anfauglir,

Do you think that free will does not exist as we have an extensive but finite set of responses to any given situation and that the response (reaction) that we give is already predetermined by other responses we have previously given?

This being the case free will is a paradox as we can not choose a response that is not available to us based on the above?

Following this "non-free will" and sentience are mutually exclusive as we can not be self aware and predetermined at the same time?

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #75 on: August 02, 2013, 06:50:30 AM »
Do you think that free will does not exist as we have an extensive but finite set of responses to any given situation and that the response (reaction) that we give is already predetermined by other responses we have previously given?

Yes.

This being the case free will is a paradox as we can not choose a response that is not available to us based on the above?
Yup.

Following this "non-free will" and sentience are mutually exclusive as we can not be self aware and predetermined at the same time?
Depends what you mean by "sentience".  Self aware, yes, we clealry have that - I'm aware of myself now, and technically "intelligent" since I can do brain-related things others can not.

But I do not believe that makes us in any way more capable of diverging from determinism than a computer, say.
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #76 on: August 02, 2013, 06:58:11 AM »
Painting the "lack of free will" idea as one where "we have no choice" is misleading, because even without free will we do make choices.  Computer programs make choices, too.  The issue is whether our choices are determined by our physical makeup, are random, are some combination of the two, or are the result of physical input by something that's not bound by physics.  A soul, if you will.

Got another option?  One you can actually define?[1]  Let's hear it.
 1. I'm looking at you, Jaime.
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Offline Mrjason

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #77 on: August 02, 2013, 09:10:36 AM »
Do you think that free will does not exist as we have an extensive but finite set of responses to any given situation and that the response (reaction) that we give is already predetermined by other responses we have previously given?

Yes.

This being the case free will is a paradox as we can not choose a response that is not available to us based on the above?
Yup.
Ok, I can get on board with that

Following this "non-free will" and sentience are mutually exclusive as we can not be self aware and predetermined at the same time?
Depends what you mean by "sentience".  Self aware, yes, we clealry have that - I'm aware of myself now, and technically "intelligent" since I can do brain-related things others can not.

But I do not believe that makes us in any way more capable of diverging from determinism than a computer, say.

Intelligence; Isn't this merely an indicator of the nature and quality of the predetermined "options" open to us?

Its self awareness in relation to free will (or more particularly the lack thereof) that twists my melon man.
John LockeWiki seems to crop up quite often when I've been looking into the nature of self awareness.
The Locke definition of "self aware" seems to be an awareness of being an entity that is separate from others and the world in general[1].
The awareness of being separate from others etc comes from being conscious of a linear sequence of thoughts and acts that make up the "self".
What I don't get is; if our thoughts and acts are predetermined how can we be conscious of them if we play no active part in determining which thought or act to persue?
 
 1. admittedly I haven't read this but this is what I gather second hand

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #78 on: August 02, 2013, 02:37:37 PM »
So why argue with people & call them stupid if they have no control over what they are thinking?  And how can anyone consider oneself superior since they also have no control over their thinking?  So I'm actually no better than the hate spewing assholes at Westboro Baptist because I don't actually choose not to be like them any more than they choose to be like them?  I will remember this defense if I decide (since I have no choice) to murder somebody.  Bollocks.

I don't think that "no responsibility"  follows from the "no free will" argument. Even if we are not completely free to decide a course of action, there are still positive or negative outcomes that have to be dealt with by society. In the piece I listened to, Sam Harris says a lot about crime and punishment and guilt. He says that learning more about the brain has complicated how we see human actions like committing a crime.

In the past, every crime or social misbehavior, no matter who did it or why, was considered by most people to be the result of "sin" and the person was severely punished as a lesson to others. A 15 year old orphan prostitute, a poor man not being able to repay a debt, a hungry child stealing bread and a rich guy stealing from his business partner were all equally "sinful" .

Now we evaluate behavior taking age, mental state, prior experiences and current physical circumstances into account. Suppose someone shoots someone with a gun. We evaluate the situation differently depending on whether the person pulling the trigger was:

a 4-year old playing with a gun they found in a drawer,
a severely abused 12-year old who shot their abuser,
an adult with a mental age of 11,
an adult enraged at an unfaithful spouse,
an adult robbing a bank,
an adult attacked by a mugger,
a soldier in a war,  or
a 17 year old drug addict who says they thought it would be fun to shoot a homeless person.

The outcome could be a 6-month suspended sentence, life in prison, a year in a mental health center, a decade of counseling or a lucrative book contract. In each case, we already take into account how "free" the person was to choose a course of action. We know that different environmental conditions and different things going on in the brain influence the actions people take. And we know that some things are out of our conscious control-- like a loaded gun going off in the hand of a 4-year old and killing another kid.

Who knows what we will find out about the brain in the future? Maybe we will decide to do different things about people's negative actions than we do today. Just like we do different things now than we did 100 years ago. But I don't think we will ever decide that nobody has to accept responsibility for what they do. 



Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #79 on: August 02, 2013, 02:40:37 PM »
Painting the "lack of free will" idea as one where "we have no choice" is misleading, because even without free will we do make choices.  Computer programs make choices, too.  The issue is whether our choices are determined by our physical makeup, are random, are some combination of the two, or are the result of physical input by something that's not bound by physics.  A soul, if you will.

I don't think we make choices or that computer programs do either.   If you are playing chess against your computer on the hardest difficulty level, it will always make the best moves possible, with 'best' being defined for any given arrangement of pieces by an algorithm.   On the hardest difficulty level, there is no selection from a number of possibilities (choosing) because the only possibility is the best move as defined by the algorithm. If there are two equally good moves, one or the other will be randomly determined.   So there is no choice with any of the moves, the program just makes the best move for the given arrangement of pieces on the board.

And when it is my turn to make a move, I'm not making a choice.   The way I think of it is that "something happens."  There are processes going on in my brain in which I seem to be trying to figure out if my piece will get taken if I move it to that spot etc.   Eventually, I will move a piece.   My move "happens."   It can be compared to anything else that happens, such as lightning striking a telephone pole, an avalanche, rain collecting in a puddle, an asteroid striking a planet, etc.   

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #80 on: August 02, 2013, 03:47:59 PM »
What I mean, nebula, is that a reasoning process that arrives at an outcome can be described as a "choice".  The requirement that there had to have been multiple possible outcomes, looking at it in hindsight, is a silly way to define "choice".  It removes an otherwise useful word from our lexicon.  Why do that?
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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #81 on: August 02, 2013, 10:34:06 PM »
I fully understand that there are a lot of behind the scenes going on in our brains. I have read extensively on current brain research. But that doesn't mean that the part of us that we identify as us and that we consider our conscious being is not capable of having input. There may be dozens of other factors. But to assume that our conscious selves therefore have no say in any of it seems a bit extreme.

I can understand that.  But by what mechanism does your conscious self interact with things?  Leaving aside the electrochemical processes, your "self" has memories, preferences, characteristics.  Is it capable of stepping outside of the self it has become over the last (mumble)-decades to do something entirely undirected by its past?

It gets even weirder when we find out that many of our memories are very inaccurate. In fact, researchers have discovered that the more times you recall a specific event, the less accurate each recollection becomes. In other words, if somethng happened 25 years ago and you never thought about it until today, your memory of that event would be more accurate than your memory of an event a year ago that you've thought about many times. So I have no trouble agreeing that the "self" that most of us think of as "me" is a bit suspect at times. I just want to give it a bit more credit than the ardent "no free will" adherents do.

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I have a feeling that people tend to Act, or to React - and that normally, people do the latter.  Things happen, and they react to them - what you might call the basic determinism response.  Reactions that are broadly predictable, in essence throwbacks to our tiny mammalian ancestors Fight or Flight responses.  In a very real sense, most of the time we do "act without thinking", though I would say that would more correctly be that we "REact without thinking".  cf, your momentary desire to kill.

Well, when I read the above, I thought "Yea, Anfauglir is right. To an extent. But not everything we do is a reaction. Then I started to search for actions that are not reactions and I'll be darned if I can think of any. That doesn't mean they never are, but if someone has an example of an action that is not a reaction, I'd sure like to know about it. I'm drawing a blank.

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But sometimes (though not too often, I fear) we find outselves consciously weighing the options.  I hope you'll understand what I mean if I talk about the awareness of thinking?  The times when self-awareness creeps in and we can stop and think - as indeed you did when you "realised" you wouldn't kill, and laughed.

Yes, we may weigh options. But usually in reaction to some stimuli. If not always in reaction to some stimuli. The argument I have with the "no free will" crowd is that the self that we identify with can't be totally without purpose or the rest of our being wouldn't' bother conjuring one up. We do have the ability to think about choices, and we do have the ability to, in some measurable way, actually make choices. Choices that, if they were able to be repeated like in an scientific experiment, would come out different some of the time. Like coin flips. But  instead of being merely chance, they would be choices that could go either way and in which minor details, rather than subconscious meddling, may have been the deciding factor.

Quote
Much as I hate to say it, I suspect that if in that moment of reacting you had had a weapon in hand, and been next to the object of your anger, you would indeed have walloped them, despite the rational "you" being a person who would never normally consider such an action.


You're probably right, except I'm more careful than that and if I were so inclined, I would take the time to figure out a way to zap the person and get away with it, rather than just flying off the handle and bonking them right then and there. I've only lost my temper once in my life (no coincidence: it was because of this person) and even then I caught myself almost immediately and calmed down. I didn't like it. But that's just me.

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This self-aware thinking is, I would agree, the level at which free will (should it exist) be in operation.  Certainly it feels, when we are thinking about thinking, that we are weighing options and evaluating.  But I still don't get it.  What is that "self" evaluating against? 

Well, there may be several schools of thought on the issue, but as far as I'm concerned nobody has won yet.  I still say that there is no way that simple biology and social conditions could have spawned such a wide variety of people. Something somewhere in us is capable of making decisions that go against the grain, and I like to think that at least part of that process is at the conscious level. Sadly, if I'm wrong I won't be able to be surprised because I won't have the free will to react that way. Bummer.  :)

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You've said yourself that "I knew there was no way I could kill another person".  Surely if you believed free will existed, you COULD choose to kill - to override everything that had come to make you "you" at that point, to cast aside everything that was and is and make that truly free decision?

But I like to think I am exercising my free will be deciding that there is no way I could kill another person. I consciously thought about such things when I was younger and decided (well, some part of me decided) that I did not want to be someone who was capable of killing. I am generally too peaceful. I understand that my view of such things isn't quite the norm. Most people say they would kill if they found someone robbing their house int he middle of the night or something, but I don't think I could. It wouldn't upset me enough. But I've lived such a peaceful life, overall, that I'm not inclined to go all Rambo on anything in life. Maybe it is just a reaction.

Quote
If free will really exists, I fear you must accept that those terrible choices ARE always available to us.  If we ARE constrained, if there are decision routes that are indeed forever closed off to "us", that simply could never happen, then free will takes an almighty blow - because you are arguing that a deterministic process is constraining what "choices" you will make, that the past and your enviroment can and do outweigh your "decisions".

I keep asking myself: Where would religion come from if there were no free will. And where would the rejection of religion come from if there were no free will. To me, both free will and behind the scenes control are taking place. The part of us we don't know (which is probably related to the part of us that automatically stops at stop signs and stop lights even when we are not aware of them consciously) certainly plays a major role in our lives. But if each of us has a little Obie-Wan Kenobi inside of us saying "nothing to see here" at every turn, I'm gonna be pissed. At least if I have that choice I will be.

Hey, at least its fun to think about these things.
Not everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #82 on: August 02, 2013, 10:55:21 PM »
ParkingPlaces, when you say you have free will, what collection of constraints is it free from?

Because we determinists say that our will is constrained by physical processes.  Do you disagree?  If so, on what grounds?
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Offline nebula

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #83 on: August 02, 2013, 11:23:11 PM »
What I mean, nebula, is that a reasoning process that arrives at an outcome can be described as a "choice".  The requirement that there had to have been multiple possible outcomes, looking at it in hindsight, is a silly way to define "choice".  It removes an otherwise useful word from our lexicon.  Why do that?

The words 'choice' and 'decision' are completely dependent on the notion of free will.    If you are speaking in metaphor it is fine to use those words but if you don't believe free will exists and you want to be technical you should always say 'apparent' before either of those.   This would of course annoy people but it is misleading to speak of choices or decisions as if they are real things.

You said  "a reasoning process that arrives at an outcome can be described as a "choice"."   Granted, but it's only a metaphor based on the erroneous notion of free will.   Extending the metaphor just a little bit, we can say a meteorological  process that determines which telephone pole gets struck by lightning is also a "choice."   The atmosphere has the 'ability' to 'choose' which pole gets struck and it 'decides' that that pole is the best one.   

Now I am answering the question "why do that?"  For me, this "no free will" thing is integral to my "spirituality, religion and woo" but it would be less controversial in this forum to just say that it is integral to my psychological method of dealing with life.   

Here is a news story I was following in July: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/01/police-shoot-dog_n_3530990.html

Apparent 'human beings' made some apparent 'choices' that resulted in the apparent grisly 'death' of an apparent, perfectly innocent 'Rottweiler.'   Unfortunately, I signed into youtube and watched that video.   At the time, I was in a period when I had sort of forgotten we don't have free will and became furious and depressed.   I was furious at the owner of the dog for being careless, i.e. antagonizing the police when he had his dog with him and then leaving the windows in his SUV rolled down enough so that the dog could could get out.   And I was furious at the Hawthorne police department for having this "shoot dogs policy."   And I was furious at the officer who shot the dog.   And I was also furious at this comment made by an officer from the Hawthorne Police Department who was not at the scene:

“And I know it’s the dog’s master, and more than likely not going to attack him, (but) we’ve got a guy handcuffed that’s kind of defenseless. We have a duty to defend him, too.”

http://www.webpronews.com/police-kill-dog-video-goes-viral-lawsuit-to-follow-graphic-2013-07

The correct way to look at this whole thing is that it is like a storm or tornado.   In a tornado, perhaps a wall of a house collapses and it crushes a dog.   The dog twitches many times and dies a painful death.   It's something unfortunate that happens.   On June 30, in Hawthorne, CA, the processes that led to the death of an innocent dog weren't atmospheric, they were neurological.   That is the only difference.   

This is how I roll.   It works.  I can dissolve anger instantly with it.   I used to do mindfulness and try to  "flood everything with acceptance" but it never really worked when it came to bad decisions or choices, either those of myself or someone else.   Now I realize that decisions or choices don't even exist.   There are processes that lead to unfortunate outcomes.   That is all.             
   

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #84 on: August 02, 2013, 11:34:11 PM »
Nebula, you totally missed the point of my post.  It was a simple post, but maybe I worded things poorly.  You've chosen to define two words in such a way as to make them useless.  I asked why you have chosen to do that.  You did not answer my question and instead answered something else.  Is the question clearer this time?  If you're not sure what I mean, you can just ask instead of typing a long post.

I will address the "correct not to feel emotions" thing, though.  Correct by what standard?  Please elucidate on the reasoning process by which one determines that an emotional response is correct.  Don't hand-wave it away by saying something like "doesn't involve belief in falsehoods" or something.  That's defining how we can tell an emotional response is incorrect, and is not at all what I'm asking.
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Offline nebula

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #85 on: August 03, 2013, 12:55:49 AM »
Nebula, you totally missed the point of my post.  It was a simple post, but maybe I worded things poorly.  You've chosen to define two words in such a way as to make them useless.  I asked why you have chosen to do that.  You did not answer my question and instead answered something else.  Is the question clearer this time?  If you're not sure what I mean, you can just ask instead of typing a long post.

I will address the "correct not to feel emotions" thing, though.  Correct by what standard?  Please elucidate on the reasoning process by which one determines that an emotional response is correct.  Don't hand-wave it away by saying something like "doesn't involve belief in falsehoods" or something.  That's defining how we can tell an emotional response is incorrect, and is not at all what I'm asking.

For me personally, thinking in terms of choices and decisions leads to unhappiness.   To me those words imply we have free will.   The idea that we have free will makes me unhappy because it means that I have a basis to regret my own bad decisions and that I have a basis to be angry at other people for their bad decisions that I don't approve of, such as the decision of that officer to follow his police department's policy and shoot the dog.   So I have 'chosen' to define those two words in such a way as to make them useless because they are useless with regard to bringing me peace and they are actually destructive to it.   On the other hand, they are useful with regard to making me miserable.   So I'm against those words.   You said that it is misleading to say we can't make choices and from my perspective the opposite is true.   It seems to me that if you think in terms of us having the ability to make choices you are planting seeds in your own mind that you have free will.   But maybe it doesn't do that for you.   If that is the case, I apologize and I won't complain about it anymore.       

The standard by which it is correct to not be angry is with regard to peace or happiness, for me anyway.   So to rephrase it, "the way for me to not get miserable over that Hawthorne CA incident is to view it in the same way I would a storm or tornado."   

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Re: Why We Argue With Religious People
« Reply #86 on: August 03, 2013, 11:31:10 AM »
I read a story a few months ago I woud like to share with a of you
a man bought some dinosaur bones and sent it to Arizona State University to be carbon dated.
He never told them what kind of bones he had sent them.
when he got the results back they were only 7000 years old.

http://www.angelfire.com/mi/dinosaurs/carbondating.html


I think man is trig to outsmart itself we all have our opinions and each of us is entitled to have one,but I have learned don't trust what scientist say 99% of the time they are wrong.

I read the information on the page linked to. Really, I am dumber for having read it, and less hopeful for our species in general.

Please reciprocate by watching this video:


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.