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Free Will

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14 hours ago, Burl said:

Right.  Deists are theists.  Plus the panentheists, pantheists and polytheists.  All postulate a supreme being who brought everything into existence via free will.  

Woah! Gods have free will? Wow! Your knowledge of the transcendent impresses me. I am far from sure panentheist and pantheist gods brought the universe into existence.

What does your qualification of a "theistic god" as opposed to "god" mean? Also note Oxford's nod to theism being used to mean personal revealed gods. But I will grant theism can be used as a catch all.

 

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5 minutes ago, romansh said:

Woah! Gods have free will? Wow! Your knowledge of the transcendent impresses me. I am far from sure panentheist and pantheist gods brought the universe into existence.

What does your qualification of a "theistic god" as opposed to "god" mean? Also note Oxford's nod to theism being used to mean personal revealed gods. But I will grant theism can be used as a catch all.

 

I think gods having free will is definitional.

All gods are theistic.  

The concise OED definition you posted does NOT say theism only refers to personally revealed gods.  Actually, the Encyclopedia of Philosophy would be a better reference than an abridged version of the OED.  We need better and more nuanced definitions.

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On 19/12/2017 at 9:10 PM, Burl said:

The major ramification of all actions (not everything) having a prior cause is that it points to the existence of a theistic god; a prime mover or first cause from which all others descend.

Wouldn't this include the ramification that this theistic God too needed a prime mover?  

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38 minutes ago, PaulS said:

Wouldn't this include the ramification that this theistic God too needed a prime mover?  

No, it would not.  One of the benefits of theism is that these illogical infinite recursions are stopped at the earliest possible instance.

Athiesm is where these silly ramifications prolferate.

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19 hours ago, Burl said:

No, it would not.  One of the benefits of theism is that these illogical infinite recursions are stopped at the earliest possible instance.

Athiesm is where these silly ramifications prolferate.

And how do you stop this so-called illogical recursion at the earliest possible instance,  Burl - by mockery and insult, or reason and evidence?

To me it seems perfectly logical that if one is going to say something can't happen unless there is a prime mover, then the next logical step is to say that that prime mover needs and prime mover.  Naturally this goes on unto infinity UNTIL one can demonstrate evidence to the contrary, rather than simply a biased opinion.  All to conveniently, some Christians CHOOSE to allocate prime mover status to Bible God without contemplating anything further - based on what?

I expect atheism is a lot more comfortable with unknowns than Christianity is, as we mainly know it.  If theism can't answer these questions (which it can't with any degree of what is commonly known as evidence) then maybe it's time to move on from theism.  That said, many people take comfort out of certainty, so if it helps them in their personal lives, so be it.

Nothing has been added to Thomas Aquinas' cosmological argument since circa 1250.  No further evidence, no further development or improvement of the argument, nothing.  It seems some people are happy to accept a 13th century notion and let it lie because the alternate is too difficult to contemplate and doesn't prvoide a convenient hard and fast answer for them.

 

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12 minutes ago, PaulS said:

And how do you stop this so-called illogical recursion at the earliest possible instance,  Burl - by mockery and insult, or reason and evidence?

To me it seems perfectly logical that if one is going to say something can't happen unless there is a prime mover, then the next logical step is to say that that prime mover needs and prime mover.  Naturally this goes on unto infinity UNTIL one can demonstrate evidence to the contrary, rather than simply a biased opinion.  All to conveniently, some Christians CHOOSE to allocate prime mover status to Bible God without contemplating anything further - based on what?

I expect atheism is a lot more comfortable with unknowns than Christianity is, as we mainly know it.  If theism can't answer these questions (which it can't with any degree of what is commonly known as evidence) then maybe it's time to move on from theism.  That said, many people take comfort out of certainty, so if it helps them in their personal lives, so be it.

Nothing has been added to Thomas Aquinas' cosmological argument since circa 1250.  No further evidence, no further development or improvement of the argument, nothing.  It seems some people are happy to accept a 13th century notion and let it lie because the alternate is too difficult to contemplate and doesn't prvoide a convenient hard and fast answer for them.

 

Atheism is not 'moving on' from theism.  It is intellectual cowardice.  It is using free will to ignore obvious evidence because it does not fit into one's preconceptions.

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1 hour ago, Burl said:

Atheism is not 'moving on' from theism.  It is intellectual cowardice.  It is using free will to ignore obvious evidence because it does not fit into one's preconceptions.

Atheism and uncertainty is far from cowardice, it is simply a preparedness to say "Theism makes no sense, I think there is something else to the story".  You may call stories that support theism as 'evidence' if you like - millions and millions would disagree.  You 'know' you are right - others very much doubt it.  I don't think that makes them cowards, intellectual or otherwise.

As for anything being free will - I don't choose to not believe in theism, I just don't as a result of what I have read and experienced.  You don't choose to believe what you believe, you just do from what you have read and experienced.  I don't see that as free will.  You can't help yourself believing or not believing, it just happens from what you read and experience and the conclusions one draws.  True free will would mean that you can choose your beliefs.  One can't.

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2 hours ago, PaulS said:

 - by mockery and insult, or reason and evidence?

It has just been demonstrated by insult works.

The aspect of a prime mover invites further recursive regression. Whereas I wonder if some quantum event needs to be looked at this way? A prime move so to speak. We don't need to invoke universal intelligences and the like.  Occam's razor so to speak.

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But despite my intellectual cowardice moving back on topic ... free will is not simply about choice, because in some sense of the word we plainly make choices. It is about the nature of choice. Are our choices constrained by chemistry and physics of the brain, never mind the host of all the influences that shape our everyday choices?

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19 minutes ago, romansh said:

It has just been demonstrated by insult works.

Mockery and insult may occur, but I still don't think it 'works' - unless we are measuring the degree to which the mocker feels satisfied.  Indeed, they may feel well satisfied that their insult scores a point, but clearly it does nothing to convince the other of their reason and evidence (which up to this point seems to be severely lacking, no matter how much they say things are evident).  I suppose it makes them feel superior though, so maybe it works in that sense for them too.

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1 hour ago, PaulS said:

Atheism and uncertainty is far from cowardice, it is simply a preparedness to say "Theism makes no sense, I think there is something else to the story".  You may call stories that support theism as 'evidence' if you like - millions and millions would disagree.  You 'know' you are right - others very much doubt it.  I don't think that makes them cowards, intellectual or otherwise.

As for anything being free will - I don't choose to not believe in theism, I just don't as a result of what I have read and experienced.  You don't choose to believe what you believe, you just do from what you have read and experienced.  I don't see that as free will.  You can't help yourself believing or not believing, it just happens from what you read and experience and the conclusions one draws.  True free will would mean that you can choose your beliefs.  One can't.

Your athiesm is indeed a product of free will.  

There are logical deductions which use syllogism to draw a firm conclusion which is not predicated on free will.  The need for a prime mover is an excellent example.  However, there are very few questions where pure logic is useful.

Most deductions are rational (not logical) and are formed by free will.  Evidence is either chosen, discarded or ignored/omitted based on free will.  A T-list of pro and con arguments are drawn up by free will.  Confirmation bias, prejudices are all end products of free will and free will is central to drawing a conclusion by weighing the evidence using free will. 

This rationality is a deconstruction of your "just do" process.  As you have demonstrated, the use of free will is frequently unconscious and is involved in what evidence you choose to discount, ignore or simply do not allow to enter your awareness. 

 

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5 minutes ago, Burl said:

Your athiesm is indeed a product of free will.  

There are logical deductions which use syllogism to draw a firm conclusion which is not predicated on free will.  The need for a prime mover is an excellent example.  However, there are very few questions where pure logic is useful.

Most deductions are rational (not logical) and are formed by free will.  Evidence is either chosen, discarded or ignored/omitted based on free will.  A T-list of pro and con arguments are drawn up by free will.  Confirmation bias, prejudices are all end products of free will and free will is central to drawing a conclusion by weighing the evidence using free will. 

This rationality is a deconstruction of your "just do" process.  As you have demonstrated, the use of free will is frequently unconscious and is involved in what evidence you choose to discount, ignore or simply do not allow to enter your awareness. 

 

I think this is going around in circles, so probably not much point repeating that I think all of the above you reference, is an illusion.  You think it's choice/logic/rationality - I don't.

But, you have your opinion, I have mine.  It seems neither of us can make a convincing case that the other will accept.  Not that we need to, but it does seem to just be a case of rinse and repeat which is a bit boring for me.

Have a great Christmas, Burl.  Ooroo.

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17 hours ago, PaulS said:

To me it seems perfectly logical that if one is going to say something can't happen unless there is a prime mover, then the next logical step is to say that that prime mover needs and prime mover. 

I expect atheism is a lot more comfortable with unknowns than Christianity is, as we mainly know it. 

Nothing has been added to Thomas Aquinas' cosmological argument since circa 1250. 

 

This topic just goes on a and on and on - 

Not sure it was a Christian who did the allocating to the biblical God but might be wrong. I thought it was already assumed, allocated or believed in the Jewish bible.

It is an interesting point about the prime mover logically needing a mover also and God(s) having free will.  Assuming (for argument sake) there is 'God' - I have wondered if creation is an act of free will or necessity: if Love is what God is (so to speak) then love, by definition is for the other; it is creative. Is creation or creating an act of God's 'free will' or is it the necessary movement of what God is? And, if there was a beginning, does that mean that 'at some time' God wasn't Love, wasn't creative but hoarded being?

And for the 'beginning' of all things, I have wondered if there had to be a beginning if God is what some of us believe God is ( Love, always creating)? On the other hand, for me logic might suggest there can't be prime movers ad infinitum for that would mean none are prime: for me logic indicates if creation isn't eternal, there had to be a 1st or beginning moment or mover - like the big bang. But what caused the bang and what banged? Something that already was or nothing?

And, atheism might be more comfortable with unknowns than some older expressions of Christianity - but a more progressive expression, a panentheistic understanding (yet even older expressions) is full of unknowns and quite comfortable because of the faith or trust in Being/God. Actually, given faith, Christianity might be said to be more comfortable with the unknown.

It has been quite a while since I have read Aquinas: can you give a brief summary of your understanding of his cosmology? What is the 13th C notion?

A few of my best friends are atheists and I have never seen them as cowards, actually far from it. Simply, the religious understanding does not speak to them and I don't think there is any 'evidence' - for either the atheist or the religious position. However, not sure I agree that what one believes is not a choice: if it is the result of reading and experience then it seems in the doing of that, one 'sees' something and decides to take one road, the other road or sit on the fence for awhile.

Regardless Merry Christmas to all and a good New Year!

Edited by thormas

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I think the you will find most atheists take an agnostic stance on this ... in that as you say there is no evidence for a god so there is no logical need to believe in one. In my experience the majority of atheists I have come across do not believe there is no god; they simply don't hold a belief in god. Which seems a reasonable position to me. Now of course there is evidence against some of the more literal theistic (revealed) interpretations of god. Of course then there is the deistic type gods ... and almost by definition we have no evidence for them in either direction. What is the evidence for love being god?  cf. Rom

 

Agreed, no evidence either way........For some, there is no evidence for god, so there is no need to believe. For others, there is no evidence that establishes there is not or couldn't be (a) 'God' (very widely defined as evidenced in this website), so there is no need to not believe.

My experience is that atheists simply don't believe because they (first) believe there is no such thing or being. 

Not sure what evidence or which more literal theistic notions of god that you have in mind. 

God as a clockmaker who sets all in motion and then 'observes' from a distant place: no evidence either way. God as love: the same.  

Edited by thormas

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I am answering here because this was the thread I responded to, touching on a number of topics and don't want to lose any interested parties.

Rom asks: So if you agree there is no evidence either way especially of deistic type God's ... why do you believe?

The answer is in the question: without evidence, it is (a question of) belief. I believe (detailed in various places within this site) because it resonates: it provides answers to the basic questions that men ask in life (see Greeley, The Jesus Myth); I find it reasonable and it is a piece with other human insights that attempt to put answers to Life's questions.

I have done and continue my parsing (which generally falls under Christian Panentheism) so there are definitions that have already been dismissed or never considered, including your Norse gods. Actually the atheists I know and have had such discussions with do not seriously consider polytheism (Norse, Greek, Roman or even more ancient beliefs), grew up in the Jewish/Christian tradition and find affinity with my understanding - in that it does not take a literal, inerrant biblical view, is panentheistic and, therefore, decidedly not theistic, utilizes a modern understandings of human development, employs process philosophy, appreciates and incorporates Eastern Christian Theology and on and on.  None considerate it ill defined or nebulous, so no need to get bunchy Rom simply because you don't follow or disagree. 

I agree we might never know but Love is not a default position: it is central to the religions that trace back to Abraham (and also ties to other religions/insights). Love answers the age old questions: announced in the words of Jesus, it is lived/made flesh in him, it is remembered and shared in the gospels, it is the understanding of the mystics, it in the works of  theologians who re-present it is for today's audience. Hardly a default, it is an answer presented and a choice given. 

It is time to finish wrapping presents. If you respond here, I will try to respond when possible - but it is the Eve of the incarnation of ..........Love.

Merry, Merry!

 

 

Edited by thormas

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16 hours ago, thormas said:

This topic just goes on a and on and on - 

Not sure it was a Christian who did the allocating to the biblical God but might be wrong. I thought it was already assumed, allocated or believed in the Jewish bible.

It is an interesting point about the prime mover logically needing a mover also and God(s) having free will.  Assuming (for argument sake) there is 'God' - I have wondered if creation is an act of free will or necessity: if Love is what God is (so to speak) then love, by definition is for the other; it is creative. Is creation or creating an act of God's 'free will' or is it the necessary movement of what God is? And, if there was a beginning, does that mean that 'at some time' God wasn't Love, wasn't creative but hoarded being?

And for the 'beginning' of all things, I have wondered if there had to be a beginning if God is what some of us believe God is ( Love, always creating)? On the other hand, for me logic might suggest there can't be prime movers ad infinitum for that would mean none are prime: for me logic indicates if creation isn't eternal, there had to be a 1st or beginning moment or mover - like the big bang. But what caused the bang and what banged? Something that already was or nothing?

And, atheism might be more comfortable with unknowns than some older expressions of Christianity - but a more progressive expression, a panentheistic understanding (yet even older expressions) is full of unknowns and quite comfortable because of the faith or trust in Being/God. Actually, given faith, Christianity might be said to be more comfortable with the unknown.

It has been quite a while since I have read Aquinas: can you give a brief summary of your understanding of his cosmology? What is the 13th C notion?

A few of my best friends are atheists and I have never seen them as cowards, actually far from it. Simply, the religious understanding does not speak to them and I don't think there is any 'evidence' - for either the atheist or the religious position. However, not sure I agree that what one believes is not a choice: if it is the result of reading and experience then it seems in the doing of that, one 'sees' something and decides to take one road, the other road or sit on the fence for awhile.

Regardless Merry Christmas to all and a good New Year!

It does seem to go on and on Thormas, hence my abandonment last post just because we keep saying the same things generally, yet disagreeing.  It has been very interesting though to a point.  But in response to your post:

Aquinas (who lived in the 13th centruy hence why I called his cosmology a 13th century notion) basically proposed that creation needed a prime mover and that that prime mover was God.  In one of his works, the Summa Theologiae, he laid out his 5 proofs for the existence of God and drew some conclusions that Burl has repeated here.  I think this one-pager will better explain Aquinas' notions than I could - http://www.scandalon.co.uk/philosophy/cosmological_aquinas.htm

For some, what Aquinas presumes may be 'common sense', whereas for me, I think Aquinas is just making things up to suit his view of God and none are supported by any actual evidence or supported theories.

In relation to Christianity maybe being more comfortable with unknowns - I like your positivity but I think by far Christianity likes certainties and answers as opposed to just accepting a "we just don't know".  There are certainly many churches and versions that do take a more progressive approach, but I am confident they are the minority.

Hope you're having a very Merry Christmas.  I have been and have enjoyed a quick swim and a break from the champagne, but our next guests are soon to arrive so gotta get back up on that horse!

Cheers

Paul

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9 hours ago, PaulS said:

Aquinas (who lived in the 13th centruy hence why I called his cosmology a 13th century notion) basically proposed that creation needed a prime mover and that that prime mover was God.  In one of his works, the Summa Theologiae, he laid out his 5 proofs for the existence of God and drew some conclusions that Burl has repeated here.  I think this one-pager will better explain Aquinas' notions than I could - http://www.scandalon.co.uk/philosophy/cosmological_aquinas.htm

In relation to Christianity maybe being more comfortable with unknowns - I like your positivity but I think by far Christianity likes certainties and answers as opposed to just accepting a "we just don't know".  There are certainly many churches and versions that do take a more progressive approach, but I am confident they are the minority.

I read Aquinas a lifetime ago but never gave much weight to his proofs since I don't accept that God is an object that one can gather evidence of, weight and say, "God exists (or doesn't)." I will read the site you provided after the day's activities. Thanks.

I can't speak for Christianity but for myself, as a Christian, I have grown comfortable with uncertainty, including definitive knowledge of God. Not happening. The funny thing is that Christianity and all such belief systems, reveal their uncertainty in the word: belief (systems). In the history of Christianity (and the other religions), belief has morphed into 'knowledge and certainity' - but, in truth, it was and always will be belief. Christianity, is (one of) man's attempt to Answer life and, thereby, to live an 'authentic human life.'

One makes a faith decision: 'the' Answer resonates in one's life, it 'speaks' to them and he/she 'gives oneself' to it.  And it is in living/doing the Answer that one knows if their Answer is (one of) 'the' Way of Life (life giving/enhancing).  So for the Christian (who understands) "we don't know (no certainty, no evidence)"  - yet we give ourselves (faith decision) and in the doing, we 'know' (experiential knowing). Spong years ago said God is a verb, so too the Answer (God/Life/the One) is not an object to be coveted, it is a verb, a reality, to be lived. 

For Chesterton, "the Christian is sure of the ground on which he walks" - but it is only in the walking that one becomes 'sure.'  

 

Edited by thormas

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On ‎2017‎-‎12‎-‎24 at 8:43 AM, thormas said:

This topic just goes on a and on and on - 

Not sure it was a Christian who did the allocating to the biblical God but might be wrong. I thought it was already assumed, allocated or believed in the Jewish bible.

It is an interesting point about the prime mover logically needing a mover also and God(s) having free will.  Assuming (for argument sake) there is 'God' - I have wondered if creation is an act of free will or necessity: if Love is what God is (so to speak) then love, by definition is for the other; it is creative. Is creation or creating an act of God's 'free will' or is it the necessary movement of what God is? And, if there was a beginning, does that mean that 'at some time' God wasn't Love, wasn't creative but hoarded being?

And for the 'beginning' of all things, I have wondered if there had to be a beginning if God is what some of us believe God is ( Love, always creating)? On the other hand, for me logic might suggest there can't be prime movers ad infinitum for that would mean none are prime: for me logic indicates if creation isn't eternal, there had to be a 1st or beginning moment or mover - like the big bang. But what caused the bang and what banged? Something that already was or nothing?

And, atheism might be more comfortable with unknowns than some older expressions of Christianity - but a more progressive expression, a panentheistic understanding (yet even older expressions) is full of unknowns and quite comfortable because of the faith or trust in Being/God. Actually, given faith, Christianity might be said to be more comfortable with the unknown.

It has been quite a while since I have read Aquinas: can you give a brief summary of your understanding of his cosmology? What is the 13th C notion?

A few of my best friends are atheists and I have never seen them as cowards, actually far from it. Simply, the religious understanding does not speak to them and I don't think there is any 'evidence' - for either the atheist or the religious position. However, not sure I agree that what one believes is not a choice: if it is the result of reading and experience then it seems in the doing of that, one 'sees' something and decides to take one road, the other road or sit on the fence for awhile.

Regardless Merry Christmas to all and a good New Year!

What did Aquinas say about free will?

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2 hours ago, thormas said:

Enlighten us

I don't have a clue. Just trying to keep on topic.

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On 26/12/2017 at 4:03 AM, romansh said:

What did Aquinas say about free will?

He was in favour of it Rom.  Some of the 'logic' he drew on to support that position was 'God's sovereignty' and also his reasoning that there would otherwise be no need or existence of commands, prohibitions, or rewards and punishments if free will did not exist.

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Thanks Paul.

Aquinas  on free will a general summary based on Stanford

  • AquinasLooks at different kinds of will
  • Nature "determines" us to be good in some general sort of way
  • These are "willed" out of necessity
  • Freedom enters the picture when we consider different means to attaining this "goodness"
  • There is a free choice then to choose a means (or not) to our ends.
  • Free choice is an activity that involves both our intellectual and volitional capacities, as it consists in both judgment and active commitment

Essentially he just asserts we can choose freely. I probably need to look for a few more references. Having said that perhaps we should look at a bit more recent introspections on how me make decisions rather than 750 year old assertions. End of the day to have free will, we have to be consciously first cause generators when choosing a particular chain of cause and effect or path.

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On 12/27/2017 at 11:38 AM, romansh said:

snip

Essentially he just asserts we can choose freely. I probably need to look for a few more references. Having said that perhaps we should look at a bit more recent introspections on how me make decisions rather than 750 year old assertions. End of the day to have free will, we have to be consciously first cause generators when choosing a particular chain of cause and effect or path.

I would agree with Rom's conclusion.  Most people i know use the words free will to indicate we have a choice or that we can freely choose but being connected as part of the whole i see that choice as limited by a multitude of variables that we as individuals have limited control over and therefore it limits our choices to not be truly free. That is a hard pill to swallow for many but that is my current understanding.

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