View Single Post
Unread December 7th, 2004, 07:34 PM
ToddStark ToddStark is offline
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 174
Cool Asking why the question matters

The assertion that there’s a creator (living or otherwise), or at least the odds that we’re not here by chance, is actually more supportable.

What are the odds that the universe and we are by chance? Roger Penrose did the math (actually on the odds of the low entropy at the beginning, 13 billion years ago), and the odds are infinitesimal.

Since we’re not here by chance, it’s relatively easy for me to accept my gut instinct, telling me that I do indeed have at least some “disinterested free will.” Besides, no one truly believes, in their gut, otherwise; not even those less than completely authentic atheists you’ve mentioned, except for maybe the dead ones.
Hi Fred,

I agree with you that free will is tougher to sell than deity, although both are problematic in my opinion. Both rely on comparing various strong intuitions that we hold with empirical data. As I think Dan Wegner demonstrates in "The Illusion of Conscious Will," it is only moderately difficult to frame the classic free will question (that human will is an "uncaused cause") in an empirically testable way and then show some of its more blatant failures. We thereby show that our intuition is (partly) faulty. Will is caused and constrained, however not neccessarily a fatalistic prison. The intuition does tell us something of real value, that we do have choices even if not perfectly unconstrained in some absolute sense.

Arguments about the more common concept of free will (your "at least some" free will) seem pointless to me as well as they do to you since no sane person would seriously deny such a thing. We have responsibility in some sense for some subset of our actions because we have some ability to distinguish good from bad consequences and to predict and prevent the bad ones by controlling our own actions.

It seems to me that there is no equivalent empirical testing framework for the concept of a deity because it is so broad and so inclusive. It isn;t the existence of such a thing that is the issue, since it can take more forms than we can imagine, and have properties we cannot comprehend, but what it means to our lives. The place it really matters is when claims about deity are used to support claims of authority among mortals on earth. Authority is the lynch pin on which the meaningful philosophical arguments hinge.

Making religion (or some equally totalistic atheist ideology) enforceably the ultimate authority, and the Church or State its mediator on earth leads to a very different kind of authority model from imagining nature as the ultimate authority, and empirical science its mediator, and with very different social and political consequences, regardless of whether a deity exists or whether we believe in it.

kind regards,

Reply With Quote