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Free Will, Determinism, Forgiveness and Love.

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I'm not certain if this topic belongs here as it deals more with philosophy vs theology.  The question of determinism vs free will has been a thorn in my side.  Would it be easier to forgive if you accept our actions as purely products of genetics and environment?  If you embrace determinism (as I have), you begin to accept that the most grievous deeds committed upon you were an inevitability.  This worldview forces me to forgive as the actions of others were caused by a complex set of variables.  It also allows me to forgive myself as I understand that my mental state at the time of my transgressions was a product of many inputs.  I don't think it's an excuse to absolve me or anyone of their wrongdoings.  Consequences for actions must still be imparted as a method of containment or adding new variables to the equation that is our personality.  The major downside to this view is the cheapening of love.  This would also mean that those who love me or consider me a friend do so because it was also inevitable.  This is something that I still have trouble working out in my head.  Negative interactions in my life far exceed those of love and friendship hence this way of thinking is a net benefit.

On the flip side, if you take a free will approach, it's the opposite.  Although this freedom of choice is limited by our abilities, it's always there in some capacity.  It means that the deeds of others are much less forgivable as they had total agency over themselves.  It also means that love is that much more precious.  I'm constantly taunted by this.  Thoughts?
 

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I recently rewatched the movie, "Donnie Darko." Have you seen it? 

 

 

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20 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

I recently rewatched the movie, "Donnie Darko." Have you seen it? 

 

 

No, never seen it.

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It's about a kid who delves into an interesting theory on determinism. It's on Amazon Video. 

 

It's a cool sci fi type movie suggesting that free will is illusory. 

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Looking at this from what I would understand to be a determinist standpoint, is not your capacity to forgive also a result of determinism, as also another's lack of such capacity?

 

That being the case, is ease of forgiveness not simply a matter of the way one's neurones happen to fire regardless of whether one also exhibits a determinist outlook?

 

I say "exhibits a determinist outlook" because I'm unclear how a determinist can "adopt" an outlook which he has merely as a result of the determinist process.  Does this not ultimately resolve into behaviourism (i.e. we are just organisms that happen to behave a certain way for mechanistic reasons)?

 

Or am I misunderstanding the whole concept of determinism?

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Although seeing our minds as a collection of inputs and outputs does present a rather bland view of the human experience, I don't think it entirely invalidates the concept of free will. Rather, the "inputs and outputs" model is a model of how the mind works at a lower level, while free will is a model of how it works at a higher level, just as a molecule is a model for what is really just atoms that are really just subatomic particles etc. etc. Granted, free will not the most meaningful model, as it doesn't quite specify what we're free from and how the mind supposedly works in the absence of these bonds, but it does capture how the human mind is unpredictable to other human observers, and even to itself. (The concept that we can't predict our own future choices is very foreign to some, but it helps to appreciate that for the brain to be able to analyze its own inner workings with full precision in realtime, it would have to be more complex than itself, and analyzing future thoughts adds an extra dimension of complexity.)

 

That being said, I think the question of free will as it's often brought up in religious discussions is a bit of a red herring.

First of all, free will doesn't make punishment more or less good. As you suggest in your post, punishment has the same function of correcting behaviour, regardless of whether the universe is deterministic or not.

Conversely, meaningless punishment, such as, say, throwing someone into a furnace of fire for all eternity, would produce only negative outcomes either way. Free will or not, two wrongs still don't make a right.

The free will response to the problem of evil is equally meaningless. If we have free will, then that doesn't prevent God from intervening in the world - He would not be robbed of free will just because we have it.
Nor would it somehow violate free will if God were to intervene in the world. I intervene in the world every day, and I suspect you do as well, without anyone being robbed of their will. Obviously, what you and I can do trivially would also be possible for God.

 

All in all, the question of free will is an interesting thought experiment which may have great implications for philosophy, ethics and neuroscience in the future, but I don't think it has many practical consequences for us today.

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I'll admit that I'm not really clear on the prevailing theories or debates about free will or determinism, so please excuse me if I seem ignorant.
But I was thinking: What if 'free will' was simply our capacity as humans to choose thoughts and actions that are not bound by evolutionary instincts?
I understand the evolution of all life as being guided by certain instincts or urges: to survive, to multiply themselves and to manipulate the environment for the benefit of themselves and their kind.
Animals and plants make decisions based solely on these instincts, but humans seem like the only ones who have an awareness of alternative choices, even if we choose to follow instinct as a default.
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I'm not sure that a plant can be said to make a decision.

 

Animals may or may not, depending on the level of their branch in the evolutionary tree and whether we interpret behaviours correctly.

 

Humans may or may not, depending on whether behaviour is determined by some mixture of genetics, background and circumstance.

 

I'm no determinist, but whilst I agree that humans appear to be aware of choices and to make decisions, I have some difficulty seeing how I can prove this to be the case.

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Ok, I'll grant that my choice of wording is a bit out there.

By my limited understanding of biology (and many years watching David Attenborough docos), It seems that the actions of a plant are determined by instinctual responses to stimuli based on the need to survive, to procreate or multiply itself and to manipulate its environment for its own benefit and the benefit of its offspring (ie. obtain nourishment, territory, favourable conditions, elimination or avoidance of threats, etc).

Animals seem to follow the same formula - their actions are also determined by instinctual responses to stimuli. Depending on the level of their branch in the evolutionary tree, the physiological response may be the same, but the range of possible actions might vary.

For instance, spring weather stimulates mating season in many animal and bird species. Some will woo their mate through elaborate nesting, music and dance rituals, others will physically dominate or destroy the competition, while still others will mate for life. Despite the apparent evidence of many Disney movies, animals don't get to choose - their evolutionary instincts determine that they must at least attempt to secure a suitable mate, and their evolutionary branch and level determines the actions by which they attempt it. Many of them may die in the attempt - the choice between surviving to try again with a different prospect, or next year, or risking death to get an offspring now is about the extent of their options. If circumstances arise and all their usual options appear unavailable to them, then it might be possible (again depending on their evolutionary level) for them to look outside the box for the next closest alternative. That's when we see strange stuff like goats raising lion cubs (or something to that effect).

As far as humans go, we can choose to wait until we feel mature enough to raise a child, we can choose to take precautions to prevent an offspring, we can choose not to have children at all, to become celibate, and so many other options that cannot be explained by these evolutionary instincts determining so many of our actions.

But apart from that, humans make other, altruistic choices in life such as: running into a burning building to save a neighbour, giving all their money to the poor, devoting their life to helping orphans or rescuing injured wildlife, throwing themselves onto a grenade to save a platoon...

These choices appear to be based on a recognition of our connection to other living things - patience, self control and integrity, kindness, gentleness and generosity, compassion, peace and joy. 

In my experience we can choose to be guided by these higher values, or we can default to our instincts. But we can always choose, even if we feel like our choice is made for us.

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On 3/30/2017 at 9:47 PM, RealityCheck said:

I'm not certain if this topic belongs here as it deals more with philosophy vs theology.  The question of determinism vs free will has been a thorn in my side.  Would it be easier to forgive if you accept our actions as purely products of genetics and environment?  If you embrace determinism (as I have), you begin to accept that the most grievous deeds committed upon you were an inevitability.  This worldview forces me to forgive as the actions of others were caused by a complex set of variables.  It also allows me to forgive myself as I understand that my mental state at the time of my transgressions was a product of many inputs.  I don't think it's an excuse to absolve me or anyone of their wrongdoings.  Consequences for actions must still be imparted as a method of containment or adding new variables to the equation that is our personality.  The major downside to this view is the cheapening of love.  This would also mean that those who love me or consider me a friend do so because it was also inevitable.  This is something that I still have trouble working out in my head.  Negative interactions in my life far exceed those of love and friendship hence this way of thinking is a net benefit.

On the flip side, if you take a free will approach, it's the opposite.  Although this freedom of choice is limited by our abilities, it's always there in some capacity.  It means that the deeds of others are much less forgivable as they had total agency over themselves.  It also means that love is that much more precious.  I'm constantly taunted by this.  Thoughts?
 

RC....this is my 2 cents for what it's worth. Only an opinion.... not right or wrong. Just my observations of humans.

 

I have taken the word 'forgive' out of my vocabulary. I think it's a silly word. And I think it stems from religion. You know the cliche? God forgives you... so you must forgive someone 70 x 7...blah, blah, blah. Forgiveness is a so-called 'feeling' that people say they acquire when they let an action go when someone committed a hurt against them. I remember so well 'trying' to 'forgive' even as a christian and had the worst time with it. Of course, I always tried really hard. Once someone hurt me, I could never really 'let it go' if I was honest. I never fully trusted again. Even if that person remained in my life, I was always leery that they would hurt again, unless I saw a total change in their actions. I also caused other people in my life hurt and I wouldn't expect them to forgive me for my actions unless I put in a great amount of effort (free will and choice) to change my own behavior and show them that I wouldn't hurt them again..

 

Let me explain a little further why I feel this way. I expect to be hurt now from friends and family because of the animal nature of humans that I believe is born in us.  Because I expect that no one will be perfect, then it doesn't hurt as much. If someone hurts me today and apologizes, I watch to see if their behavior and actions change. (I'm not talking about rapists, murderers, etc. here) I think we all have the ability to hurt others because of the human gene of self centeredness. And I do believe that those qualities are born in us for our own survival. Most people are out for themselves (as much as we humans will not admit this) so I include myself.

 

 While humans are busy protecting themselves, we can become inconsiderate of others. Laziness, boredom and taking others for granted are part of the human mindset and this can destroy trust and so-called 'love'. It takes effort to put others above (and before) yourself. This is where free will and choice will comes in. Love is also a funny word to me now as a non christian. I have substituted that word for 'companionship' because I truly believe that no man is an island and we need each other to survive. So the question I always ask myself now with friends and family is, ''Are they good companions for me and can I be a good companion for them?'' If our personalities make a good match, then we can choose to have relationships with them. With others that don't match us as good, we can remain respectful towards each other but not be close to them.

 

And if this is classified as 'love', I would take a bullet to help save the people who mean the most to me in my life.

 

And as @possibility stated, we all have the ability to 'choose' to have empathy and help others. 

 

Does this make any sense at all? Lol

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Margee, I read your post at a very timely moment (after recently being very deeply hurt by family members in a way that seems almost unrecoverable) . Your reflection has helped me to try to look at it from another angle. Thank you.

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On 4/13/2017 at 0:05 PM, Rounin said:

Although seeing our minds as a collection of inputs and outputs does present a rather bland view of the human experience, I don't think it entirely invalidates the concept of free will. Rather, the "inputs and outputs" model is a model of how the mind works at a lower level, while free will is a model of how it works at a higher level, just as a molecule is a model for what is really just atoms that are really just subatomic particles etc. etc. Granted, free will not the most meaningful model, as it doesn't quite specify what we're free from and how the mind supposedly works in the absence of these bonds, but it does capture how the human mind is unpredictable to other human observers, and even to itself. (The concept that we can't predict our own future choices is very foreign to some, but it helps to appreciate that for the brain to be able to analyze its own inner workings with full precision in realtime, it would have to be more complex than itself, and analyzing future thoughts adds an extra dimension of complexity.)

 



Using a high level of reductionism, there is no good, evil, or free will.  There are just actions that benefit us as individuals/species hence through natural selection we've been sculpted to view them that way.  Reality isn't entirely ordered or structured else we would have had a sterile universe of perfect symmetry.  Our minds are in many ways a chaotic system.  However, this doesn't imply free will either but instead that we're highly complex system governed by chaos theory.  Small variables in initial conditions can cascade through feed back loops, repetition, etc.  Future actions seem entirely unpredictable from our current vantage point.

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On 4/24/2017 at 5:05 AM, possibility said:

But apart from that, humans make other, altruistic choices in life such as: running into a burning building to save a neighbour, giving all their money to the poor, devoting their life to helping orphans or rescuing injured wildlife, throwing themselves onto a grenade to save a platoon...

These choices appear to be based on a recognition of our connection to other living things - patience, self control and integrity, kindness, gentleness and generosity, compassion, peace and joy. 

In my experience we can choose to be guided by these higher values, or we can default to our instincts. But we can always choose, even if we feel like our choice is made for us.


The neo cortex and our lower brains/limbic system are in perpetual battle for control of our actions.  However I see these as two extra variables in the initial condition of our chaotic system (see chaos theory reference I made in post above).  You also made a comment on goats raising lion cubs.  This is because mammals (including us) are biologically programmed to feel nurturing towards creatures with infant like body proportions.  It's why we find kittens cute (they have the same proportions as a human baby).  

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On 31/03/2017 at 1:47 AM, RealityCheck said:

I'm not certain if this topic belongs here as it deals more with philosophy vs theology.  The question of determinism vs free will has been a thorn in my side.  Would it be easier to forgive if you accept our actions as purely products of genetics and environment?  If you embrace determinism (as I have), you begin to accept that the most grievous deeds committed upon you were an inevitability.  This worldview forces me to forgive as the actions of others were caused by a complex set of variables.  It also allows me to forgive myself as I understand that my mental state at the time of my transgressions was a product of many inputs.  I don't think it's an excuse to absolve me or anyone of their wrongdoings.  Consequences for actions must still be imparted as a method of containment or adding new variables to the equation that is our personality.  The major downside to this view is the cheapening of love.  This would also mean that those who love me or consider me a friend do so because it was also inevitable.  This is something that I still have trouble working out in my head.  Negative interactions in my life far exceed those of love and friendship hence this way of thinking is a net benefit.

On the flip side, if you take a free will approach, it's the opposite.  Although this freedom of choice is limited by our abilities, it's always there in some capacity.  It means that the deeds of others are much less forgivable as they had total agency over themselves.  It also means that love is that much more precious.  I'm constantly taunted by this.  Thoughts?
 

 

Thanks for raising this fascinating subject, RC.

 

You ask for thoughts - so how about this?

My interest in cosmology has lead me to consider the following possibility.  Is it possible that we do and don't have free will?  Ok, this appears to be a paradox.  These two conditions should be mutually exclusive.  It should be impossible for us to make free choices, while not making free choices.  Yet, if we 'cheat' a little, there is a way of resolving this paradox.  I will explain, but keep the exact nature of the cheating secret until the end of this post.  

.

.

.

Below is an excerpt from this book... https://www.amazon.com/Infinite-Book-Boundless-Timeless-Endless/dp/1400032245

 

"Imagine living in a universe where nothing is original. Everything is a fake. No ideas are ever new. There is no novelty, no originality. Nothing is ever done for the first time and nothing will ever be done for the last time. Nothing is unique. Everyone possesses not just one double but an unlimited number of them.
This unusual state of affairs exists if the universe is infinite in spatial extent (volume) and the probability that life can develop is not equal to zero. It occurs because of the remarkable way in which infinity is quite different from any large finite number, no matter how large the number might be.
In a universe of infinite size, anything that has a non-zero probability of occurring must occur infinitely often. Thus at any instant of time—for example, the present moment—there must be an infinite number of identical copies of each of us doing precisely what each of us is now doing. There are also infinite numbers of identical copies of each one of us doing something other than what we are doing at this moment. Indeed, an infinite number of copies of each of us could be found at this moment doing anything that it was possible for us to do with a non-zero probability at this moment.

The spatial replication paradox has all sorts of odd consequences aside from the psychological unease it creates. We believe that the evolution of life is possible with non-zero probability because it has happened on Earth by natural means. Hence, in an infinite universe there must exist an infinite number of living civilizations. Within them will exist copies of ourselves of all possible ages. When each of us dies, there will always exist elsewhere an infinite number of copies of ourselves, possessing all the same memories and experiences of our past lives but who will live on to the future. This succession will continue indefinitely into the future and so in some sense each of us 'lives' forever." 

 

If we do inhabit such an infinite multiverse, then we inhabit a 'super-deterministic' reality.

 

http://www.informationphilosopher.com/freedom/superdeterminism.html

 

In such a reality, free will is an illusion.

In such a reality, we are not unique, but infinitely iterated across infinite space, endlessly repeating the same actions, thoughts and decisions of all of our doppelgangers.  In such a reality, everything that can happen in nature happens infinitely often.  The same events play out again and again and again... forever.  Such a reality would be like a fractal, endlessly repeating itself without ever producing anything new or novel.  The same self-similar patterns played and replayed... for eternity.

 

Q.

So, how can there be any free will in such a reality?

 

A.

There can't.  But there is a loophole (aka cheating) in this whole concept that would allow us to believe that we have free will.

 

It all comes down to a matter of scale.

Across the entire reality described above, none of us or any of our duplicates have any free will.  That is the widest possible view, with a scale that encompasses e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.  However, on a purely LOCAL scale (our observable universe of 94,000,000,000 light years diameter) we have no duplicates.  Our nearest possible duplicate is much, much further away from us than this tiny distance.  (Many billions of multiples of this figure.)  Now, given the fact that we can never meet with any of our duplicates or even know if they exist, we will live out our lives in complete and total ignorance of them.  Any they of us.  Therefore, we can safely choose to believe that we are unique and that we possess free will, even if neither of these conditions is true.  

 

So, provided that we think locally and not cosmically, we can believe that we have free will.

We can also believe that we do and we don't have free will, by simultaneously considering both the local and cosmic frames of reference in our minds.  As we are doing right now - by reading these words and considering these concepts.

 

And there is the cheating resolution of the paradox.

 

Thanks,

 

BAA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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^^^^  Thanks for this, BAA!

After reading your thought-provoking post above, I suddenly felt this intense gratitude that - for the first time in my life - I am a member of a community of people who are wholly unbound by religious theology or dogma.  It's an amazing experience, being exposed to the ideas that are shared here on a daily basis!  Everything from scriptural history and science to atheistic philosophies, godless 'spirituality' and more  It has been just over three years since I realized I had become an ex-Christian, but my deconversion has become much deeper and more positive since I became active in this community just over a year ago.  So I'm just saying 'Thanks' BAA to you and the others who have shown how rich life can be without a god-belief!

 

 

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Thanks for your reply RealityCheck. I am really enjoying this discussion.

I think it's reductionism, and our tendency to cling to it and believe it to be reality, that is where the problem lies.

Chaos theory is an excuse we use to limit our awareness and knowledge. It's too complex to be predictable, so why bother trying to understand it? The theory actually suggests that the natural, physical world is ordered and structured, but at a level beyond our current capacity to reliably process all the variables. That can inspire us to seek greater awareness, knowledge and understanding, but it can also overwhelm or frighten us to seek comfort in only what we can reliably predict and therefore feel a sense of control over.

But I believe that the human brain has the potential capacity for unlimited awareness, unlimited thought and unlimited choices, giving us frighteningly overwhelming potential and thus increasing responsibility to make our choices for the benefit of all life - past, present and future. We cope with that by creating and imagining barriers and limitations on our awareness, thoughts and choices that aren't there in reality, but allow us to feel safe, capable and in control. This includes reductionism, racism, nationalism, theism, etc. The expectation is that we gradually eliminate these barriers as our knowledge and understanding grows across generations of human experience. It's how we teach our children to gradually make sense of and cope with responsibility in the world, and for me the bible demonstrates the same process.

But it takes courage to venture beyond the barriers.

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6 hours ago, bornagainathiest said:

Q.

So, how can there be any free will in such a reality?

 

A.

There can't.  But there is a loophole (aka cheating) in this whole concept that would allow us to believe that we have free will.

 

It all comes down to a matter of scale.

Across the entire reality described above, none of us or any of our duplicates have any free will.  That is the widest possible view, with a scale that encompasses e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.  However, on a purely LOCAL scale (our observable universe of 94,000,000,000 light years diameter) we have no duplicates.  Our nearest possible duplicate is much, much further away from us than this tiny distance.  (Many billions of multiples of this figure.)  Now, given the fact that we can never meet with any of our duplicates or even know if they exist, we will live out our lives in complete and total ignorance of them.  Any they of us.  Therefore, we can safely choose to believe that we are unique and that we possess free will, even if neither of these conditions is true.  

 

So, provided that we think locally and not cosmically, we can believe that we have free will.

We can also believe that we do and we don't have free will, by simultaneously considering both the local and cosmic frames of reference in our minds.  As we are doing right now - by reading these words and considering these concepts.

 

And there is the cheating resolution of the paradox.

 

Thanks,

 

BAA.

 

That was excellent! 

 

So basically free will is out aside from wishful, belief oriented thinking. Correct? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, ThereAndBackAgain said:

^^^^  Thanks for this, BAA!

After reading your thought-provoking post above, I suddenly felt this intense gratitude that - for the first time in my life - I am a member of a community of people who are wholly unbound by religious theology or dogma.  It's an amazing experience, being exposed to the ideas that are shared here on a daily basis!  Everything from scriptural history and science to atheistic philosophies, godless 'spirituality' and more  It has been just over three years since I realized I had become an ex-Christian, but my deconversion has become much deeper and more positive since I became active in this community just over a year ago.  So I'm just saying 'Thanks' BAA to you and the others who have shown how rich life can be without a god-belief!

 

 

 

Another excellent post!

 

Oh it's rich alright, I feel that it's much richer than anything I experienced while under the delusion of belief. 

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I love the excitement and outpouring of emotion shown here when someone comes up with an elaborate intellectual theory that supports the belief that ex-Christians are right and Christianity is wrong, misguided, brainwashed or otherwise lacking the ability to understand reality or the 'truth'.

It reminds me of apologist forums...

 

BAA, this possible reality sounds great because it absolves us of any and all responsibility to consider others in our thoughts and actions at all.

But I woukd be interested to read how you think it relates to RealityCheck's concerns about forgiveness and the cheapening of love.

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22 hours ago, possibility said:

I love the excitement and outpouring of emotion shown here when someone comes up with an elaborate intellectual theory that supports the belief that ex-Christians are right and Christianity is wrong, misguided, brainwashed or otherwise lacking the ability to understand reality or the 'truth'.

It reminds me of apologist forums...

 

BAA, this possible reality sounds great because it absolves us of any and all responsibility to consider others in our thoughts and actions at all.

But I woukd be interested to read how you think it relates to RealityCheck's concerns about forgiveness and the cheapening of love.

 

First of all, do you think that christianity is NOT wrong, misguided, brainwashed or otherwise lacking the ability to understand reality or the 'truth?' 

 

I'd like to comment on apologetics and the truth seeking process. This is a good example of the truth seeking process at play. When dealing with the infinite, infinite replication applies. And with infinite replication comes implications. Now the way that apologists would react to discovering a truth that turns out unflattering to their preconceived ideas and beliefs, in this case their beliefs about free will, is to fight it and deny it to the bitter end. And the reason for fighting the unflattering truth is simply because it doesn't gel with their previously uninformed opinion. 

 

So you seem concerned about the implications that infinite replication has on the previously mentioned concerns about forgiveness and love. But shouldn't the attitude be one of accepting the notion that regardless of the implications on our previously held beliefs, free will may not have any real truth to it? What's more important, accepting truth regardless of the implications or struggling to hang on to preconceived ideas and belief that don't turn out well when closely analyzed? 

 

What we're doing is exploring the truth seeking process which takes thick skin and a dedication to what can be demonstrated as truth verses our emotional ties to preconceived beliefs and ideas. The truth is often not what we want it to be, but the truth is what it is regardless of our desires.

 

Having said that, I tend to disagree with your knee jerk reaction to infinite replication. Love, like everything else, is infinite in scope by this measure. Is that cheap? Is that small? No, it's just different than the way that you previously believed it to be. So does simply being different than the way you previously conceived warrant concluding that something is cheap? What this does is forces us to reexamine the reasoning behind RC thinking that determinism cheapens love. He wasn't considering infinite replication in the opening post. 

 

 

 

 

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20 hours ago, ThereAndBackAgain said:

^^^^  Thanks for this, BAA!

After reading your thought-provoking post above, I suddenly felt this intense gratitude that - for the first time in my life - I am a member of a community of people who are wholly unbound by religious theology or dogma.  It's an amazing experience, being exposed to the ideas that are shared here on a daily basis!  Everything from scriptural history and science to atheistic philosophies, godless 'spirituality' and more  It has been just over three years since I realized I had become an ex-Christian, but my deconversion has become much deeper and more positive since I became active in this community just over a year ago.  So I'm just saying 'Thanks' BAA to you and the others who have shown how rich life can be without a god-belief!

 

 

 

Your personal growth, your new realizations and your escaping from the bondage of superstition are exactly what this forum is about, TABA. :)

It's our honor and pleasure to serve those who are growing, realizing and escaping, just as we have been served in these ways by our peers and friends in Ex-C.

 

With thanks, 

 

BAA.

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14 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

 

That was excellent! 

 

So basically free will is out aside from wishful, belief oriented thinking. Correct? 

 

 

Steady, now Josh!

Please don't forget that what I'm proposing is based upon theoretical cosmology.  Yes, the math is solid and Yes, there are strong lines of evidence that suggest that we do inhabit an infinite universe.  But we can only go as far as logical inference and deduction will take us.  Direct evidence concerning the question of free will in an infinite cosmos will forever be denied to us.  If we qualify our thinking in this way, then we can go with the proposal.  But we must never forget that it is a proposal based upon indirect evidence, upon inference and upon deduction.

 

If you're happy to proceed on that basis, then... Yes, my friend.  You are correct.  

In a truly infinite cosmos we would not have free will, but because we would be unable to verify that notion, we would also be able to exploit the loophole of believing that we did possess it.

 

Thanks,

 

BAA.

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I love the excitement and outpouring of emotion shown here when someone comes up with an elaborate intellectual theory that supports the belief that ex-Christians are right and Christianity is wrong, misguided, brainwashed or otherwise lacking the ability to understand reality or the 'truth'.

It reminds me of apologist forums...

 

BAA, this possible reality sounds great because it absolves us of any and all responsibility to consider others in our thoughts and actions at all.

But I woukd be interested to read how you think it relates to RealityCheck's concerns about forgiveness and the cheapening of love.

 

 

Hello possibility. :)

 

Firstly, since this is RealityCheck's thread, it's only right and proper that I extend my thanks to him for starting it and also extend kudos to him for linking the issue of free will to the equally-important topics of forgiveness and love.  

 

Now, to his concerns about forgiveness and the cheapening of love...

If we go with my proposal (in the qualified way I've suggested to JoshPantera) then we can immediately dismiss everything supernatural.  All that exists is an infinite, but totally natural cosmos.  Therefore, we can also dismiss the idea that our thoughts and actions will judged, punished or rewarded by any kind of supernatural agent.  God simply doesn't figure anywhere in an infinite cosmos.  So our lives do not acquire meaning in reference to anything else but ourselves.

 

This realization is doubly reinforced by the two-fold qualification I've placed upon my proposal.

That we can never know for sure if we have free will or not and that we can never know for sure if we have any duplicates, anywhere else in the cosmos.  I contend that this means that our lives should not acquire meaning in reference to the question of free will.  Since that answer will forever be unknown, there's little point in building our reason for living on this unknowable unknown.  Ok, we could do this... but if we do so, then how is that any different from being a Christian and believing stuff without evidence.  How is it any different from living by faith?  

 

I further contend that our lives should not acquire meaning in reference to the unanswerable question of the existence of our duplicates.

Since that answer will forever be unknown, there's little point in building our reason for living on this unknowable unknown.  Ok, we could do this... but if we do so, then how is that any different from being a Christian and believing stuff without evidence.  How is it any different from living by faith?  

 

Now, having dealt with the two issues of free will and our duplicates, what about forgiveness and love?

Because of the points I make above, I'd suggest that we live our lives unto ourselves and to each other, on an equal basis.  There's no need to live our lives to God and no need to live our lives as if our duplicates were watching us.  No.  If we live for ourselves and for each other equally, then when it comes to forgiveness and love I'd say that the best way of practicing forgiveness and love is to employ an agnostic version of the Golden Rule.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Rule

 

Do unto others as you would have them do to you.  If you want to receive forgiveness from others, then forgive them.  If you want to receive love from others, then love them.

 

Thanks,

 

BAA.

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On 4/27/2017 at 2:15 PM, bornagainathiest said:

 

Steady, now Josh!

Please don't forget that what I'm proposing is based upon theoretical cosmology.  Yes, the math is solid and Yes, there are strong lines of evidence that suggest that we do inhabit an infinite universe.  But we can only go as far as logical inference and deduction will take us.  Direct evidence concerning the question of free will in an infinite cosmos will forever be denied to us.  If we qualify our thinking in this way, then we can go with the proposal.  But we must never forget that it is a proposal based upon indirect evidence, upon inference and upon deduction.

 

If you're happy to proceed on that basis, then... Yes, my friend.  You are correct.  

In a truly infinite cosmos we would not have free will, but because we would be unable to verify that notion, we would also be able to exploit the loophole of believing that we did possess it.

 

Thanks,

 

BAA.

 

Yes, I'm aware of the theoretical physics and my post went to the tune of if such and such, then this and that follows. We're reasoning from the perspective of an infinite cosmos. And in that infinite replication free will is not only not a given, it may be a completely incorrect assumption. The problem here is that people take free will as some sort of given, some sort of foundation upon which our entire reality is built upon. Chances are that that's a delusional assumption. 

 

But inspecting infinite replication further, if we're discussing the issue of free will right now along with a snide and sarcastic Aussie chick who has ruffled her feathers at our easy dismissal of the concept, then this same scenario with all of us involved has therefore played out before and can not be original to right here and now? 

 

Let's put the current situation on the infinite replication chopping block for an example and possible insight.

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15 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

 

Yes, I'm aware of the theoretical physics and my post went to the tune of if such and such, then this and that follows. We're reasoning from the perspective of an infinite cosmos. And in that infinite replication free will is not only not a given, it may be a completely incorrect assumption. The problem here is that people take free will as some sort of given, some sort of foundation upon which our entire reality is built upon. Chances are that that's a delusional assumption. 

 

But inspecting infinite replication further, if we're discussing the issue of free will right now along with a snide and sarcastic Aussie chick who has ruffled her feathers at our easy dismissal of the concept, then this same scenario with all of us involved has therefore played out before and can not original to right here and now? 

 

Let's put the current situation on the infinite replication chopping block for an example and possible insight.

 

Current situation?

 

 

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