Atheist for a week/First topic

I’ve decided to try a little experiment. I’m deciding to defend atheism for one week, no I’m not converting to atheism, but I do want to see how best I can defend if I can defend it at all. I will be posting topics of certain questions I’ve had for my own religion and this may pertain to others. Just thought I’d let some of you know so your not confused.

First topic.

Free will has always been a pain for atheist and theist alike. It’s hard to understand such a thing. However, my topic pertains to us being ourselves, follow closely.

If someone goes to hell one day, the only reason would be a. they didn’t adhere to the correct belief b. no beliefs c. or you could hold the correct belief and not do the correct thing, like Christianity’s salvation, one may be confused as to is it once saved always saved? Or perhaps you can lose it? If one believes he can’t lose it, and he has lost it, he’s doomed without knowing. However these are just options and thoughts, now for the main point. How exactly can anyone truly have a free choice? When everyone is affected? If you don’t understand let me say it this way, someone doesn’t choose a religion because they simply don’t belief a supreme exists, why? because they grew up with this belief, and no matter how much they’ve studied there ‘mind’ simply won’t grasp that fact and they don’t want to lie to themselves, as saying this has nothing to do with choice, just something natural. When someone is someone, I’m willing to argue there is almost no way of changing them. For instance, maybe someone does pick up a different belief, however there main goal is still the same, it’s just they change the way they go about it. Like such as someone is prideful, there religion could still be used to suit that pride.

You’re born, you have a troubled homelife, you don’t care for learning about religion, all you know is you like to have fun, etc. You’ve heard people talk about religion to you but it never really made sense and you find it rather ridiculous. You die, you go to hell. Why?

Now I realize this is mainly a narrow belief in which this will pertain, many other theist think others will be given a second chance. But I wonder, if personality is truly personality, what’s to stop personality? And if nothing is to stop it, why blame someone?

For example, some people are more lazy than others, so making a change isn’t a big deal, quitting a bad habit isn’t a big deal. Some are too lazy to lose laziness. So why can’t people be too stubborn to become religious?(not saying they are) But if this is so, how can free will actually, truly exist? Unless it’s all determinalism?

No replies mates? I guess you really can’t have it both ways, kinda reminds me of the law of noncontradiction. tee hee.


I’m a tad bit tipsy, but please clarify your point. I’m an atheist who has very recently been forced to concede that free will exists.

It still leave a bad taste in my (reductionist) mouth, but having embraced Zhu/Zeng orthodoxy I’ve had little choice.

My point is does free will actually exist if we are who we are. This may be even disagreed by atheist who are possibly existentialist. But the personalities of a person, so on, how can someone be free to really truly make a choice when everything they are, do, has been influenced, and the fact this has influenced them to become who they are, how can they ever be truly free? Sure we’re all free but some people are too lazy to make decisions, laziness? Like I said, some are to lazy to overcome laziness, it’s who they are. So such a thing can influence beliefs, so how can anyone be truly free to make a choice when it’s not their fault many times they’ve been influenced into certain dispositions?

Maybe this isn’t what you’re talking about exactly, but here’s my problem with free will.

Supposing one believes in God, then there are really only two categories when it comes to actions and beliefs: right and wrong. This narrows “free will” down to 50%, one way or the other.

Now, considering only one of these paths is the “correct” one, this limits our free will even more. Yes, we have the ability to make the choice, but only one of the choices will lead to rewards and prosperity. How, exactly, is this free will?

Yes, we can choose one or the other, but why even give the choice in the first place if you know damn well only one of the choices is the right one?

Then again, this brings to light perhaps more complex questions, like what a freakin gargantuan waste of time it is to create human beings, then only allow them to make one “correct” choice, knowing from the beginning what their heart condition is. Then you have to give God a blindfold, not being able to foretell the future, which is a contradiction to omniscience.

Well the problem I see with your point here is you could say the same thing about crossing the street, I can get hit by a car, or not get hit by a car, but I’d rather not get hit by a car so I really don’t have a choice in the matter, problem is you do have a choice, just it seems so obvious.

I don’t believe omniscience defy’s logic, if it’s logical to perhaps see into the future as a God, quite possibly this God could see the outcome, this wouldn’t effect free will for something that is timeless, if you saw the future than yes this would be more complicated.

I’m only arguing the peices that make us who we are, and since these peices can be corrupt and corrupt the mind, how can some have free will when they have a passion to kill, cheat, rebel, etc. Religion could be another rebellion, why hell for someone’s personality?

Hey Club - don’t quit your day job. You’re really not a very good atheist.

“Free will” can only be a nonsense phrase to an atheist. Free from what, exactly? I’m not omnicient, nor omnipotent, so I can’t always get what I want. That’s a problem, but not a philosophical problem.

I disagree, Faust. In one sense I can understand those who say we can never truly know if we have free will. Perhaps no god or goddess compells my actions, but how can I know I really chose them? With no god or supernatural, in a purely deterministic world, actions are the inevitable result of the laws of phsyics. Can a stone choose whether to fall or not when dropped by your hand? Can your biochemica & bioelectic systems truly create a random result at all, or are they just machines like the moon, sun & stars? And if a random result was possible, and we stood alone, pure mind on the gulf of that singularity, could we really “choose” or would chemistry prevail, with us only thinking we’d made a choice?

Well, before Dennett, anyways. :slight_smile:

So then on a certain degree I guess I’m arguing, are we free at all? I’m sure Sartre wouldn’t agree here, but if no man is an island and every mans actions affect anothers, no man is an island to make a decision because he’s never actually himself, he is who he has become… Does that make any sense? Where am I failing here…?

Free will is a fly-bottle.

You know what I’m talking about.

Possibly. I feel i’m arguing that fly is a fly though, and that fault was because of parent flies.

Take Sartre and existentialsim for example. To believe we aren’t anything, we determine who we are by our actions, but why can’t these actions be the result of who we are? Or others actions be the result of our actions, because our actions were influenced, that’s why Im arguing if we are truly free. It almost seems if Sartre was right, free will does exist.

Phaedrus - we have limits. We are not completely free. That’s why the “free” part of “free will” is extraneous. But determinism implies a determiner. It’s an old question. Absent God, it’s always been a nonsensical question.

It looks like we choose. It smells like we choose. It walks like we choose. It quacks like we choose. Within limits.

It just might be the way it seems. In fact, we have no reason to think otherwise, except in our imagination.

Unless there is a god.

Stones don’t choose - you got me there, brother. Choosing does not create a random result - that makes no sense even to say.

An idea:

What if the sun had a conscience and it thought it had free will, and it thought it was choosing to become a black hole, or a neutron star, or it choose when it would become a supernova. Was it really it’s choice, or was the sun doing what it felt as right when the moment for the decision came?

Change rarely requires desire.

Desire is triggered by change. Desire is usually the middle man between need and change. Need tells the person what to desire, desire then triggers the person, the person then wills the change.

An idea but you leave out the idea of what kind of sun it is. Our sun is obviously best as a sun, but why should it care? I guess the sun would do what ever it wanted, whatever it ‘felt’ like doing, or out of fear maybe the sun has a master to answer to, so it will stay a sun. Still those choices are affected by the sun’s personality and feelings.

I guess I’m leaning toward Freud here, even though I will disagree that if someone lets say can get out of bed or stay in bed, they don’t feel they have a choice so they stay in bed, but then they just made a choice to stay in bed. I would say the choice to stay in bed was affected by the loss of a free will feeling. However, I feel we make our own choices, but these choices are still not our own because we are not ourselves, if we don’t know what we should be we can’t ever be the correct thing, thus we make choices fulfilling desires, needs, etc. We make that choice but at the same time we are never truly free, we are slaves to ourselves.

To go along with Freud even more I’d say we are slaves to the ID. Then I’m only arguing since we are, or what Christians call sin, how can we be free when this influences us? If were too weak, too IDish, we fail, but many times even in the superego I feel we do things for the ID. My main point I guess is how can you be free with influence and the big chance to fall to influence.

All non-bolded is non-nonsensical to me. Can you be a little clearer?
As for the bolded part:
I’m going to go on a limb here and guess by “we” you mean our conscious self, and by “ourselves” you mean sub-conscious self.

In a sense yes that’s what I mean. Question is can you ever really know yourself? Are you tendancies? Inclanations? Or has the information you’ve recieved brought you to a certain personality, certain desires? If so how is that free. You can only trust that somehow if God exists everyone is giving an equal chance somehow. And maybe this chance was early on. Because for example, on kid robs a store, he robs it again because he was rewarded for doing it, he does this for a long time because he knows it well, it’s became a part of him, he was never told not to, and now he is this. I’m relating that to personality, as it almost builds on itself, it’s like dominos, and if you don’t hold one block up, which can be extremely hard to do, problems, habits, will keep happening. Such as personality becomes hard to change after so long, you may not want to be dull, lazy, boring, but it’s become you, and it’s been you for so long, and others have helped it become you by Reassuring that that’s you. So if all this is true, how can one be blamed for lets say not choosing a religion, not choosing heathly eating, not choosing a work ethic, how can someone be blamed if it’s who’ve they’ve become, and who they may always be now?

Dad beats his son, son grows up with that homelife, beats others, hates religion, etc. Then dies and goes to hell, how is that free will…

Playing devil’s advocate, there’s no need for a god to think we’re not free willed. You ever shine a flashlite or laser pointer on the floor and wiggle it around in front of a cat? The cat has a very concrete perception of a phenomon that our greater intellect finds greatly amusing. To the cat it walks like a mouse, it looks like a mouse…you see my point?

Another way to think of it- what would it look like if we only thought we had free will? Pretty much the same as if we did. Since nearly everything in the known universe seems to slavishly follow set physical laws, it’s easy to extrapolate that our own bodies might as well. If the firing of neurons in our brains and the exchange of chemicals signals is a completely naturalistic function of a biological being, it’s reasonable to assume that all your behaviors stem from this. You think you decided to make a sandwhich, and of course you did decide. But could you have decided not to or did a certain set of electrochemical transactions with an inevitable end result merely inform you that you decided it?

In that sense, you do have self determination (because those processes are part of your ‘self’) but in no real sense is there any freedom in it. You’re just running an immensely sophisticated computer program. It’s like a 100,000 page book- very intricate, but you can skip to the end then go back and read it all & find the ending can’t be changed.