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Free Will & Problem of Evil

Kleptin
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5/29/2012 7:41:02 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
I was having a discussion with a theistic friend and the issue of the Free Will rebuttal to the problem of evil came up.

I had originally planned to argue that God would still be responsible for the presence of evil since it is quite possible for him to fashion a world in which people could choose between neutral and good acts, or acts with differing levels of good. However, I could not socratically lead my friend into the admission that things could be differing levels of good or evil, as she maintains that acts that are good are good, and acts that are evil, are evil, and require the same degree of penitence in God's eyes.

I improvised a new argument. I illustrated how all acts have a butterfly effect and led her to admit that the good or evil designation of an act can be determined based on whether these butterfly effects led to a net good or a net evil act. Subsequently, I maintained that only God could determine that, as it required an omniscient being to determine something so complicated. She accepted that as well.

I then maintained that God, in fashioning humans, could not expect them to freely choose between good and evil without also granting us omniscience.

She had no response for this except that the Bible serves as a moral guide. This led to a lengthy side argument about the relevance of the Bible as a moral guide, leaving our discussion of the problem of evil unresolved.

What do you guys think of my argument, and do you know of any more concise arguments that can be used against the free will rebuttal? Preferably ones that can be presented to someone who has difficulty following formal syllogisms?
: At 5/2/2010 2:43:54 PM, innomen wrote:
It isn't about finding a theory, philosophy or doctrine and thinking it's the answer, but a practical application of one's experiences that is the answer.

: At 10/28/2010 2:40:07 PM, jharry wrote: I have already been given the greatest Gift that anyone could ever hope for [Life], I would consider myself selfish if I expected anything more.
drafterman
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5/29/2012 8:06:04 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
First, it seems to require and adherence to purely consequentionalist moralities. I don't think such moralities are tenable, even within a Christian framework. After all, it seems that the crux of the matter is what is in your heart, rather than your acts. As such, it would seem that Christianity has, at least in part, an intetionalist component.

With this, the argument is rendered moot. If intentions matter, than a person can engage in an act that has net negative consequences which is nevertheless considered good when intentions are factored in. Since an act can be good or bad, regardless of consequences, based on intentions, then it wouldn't matter if we knew what the net effects were.

Furthermore, I think you will always run into the brick wall of "Even if God is responsible for evil via Free Will, it is still better to have Evil and Free Will than No Evil and No Free Will." That is, the "best possible world" argument.

Unfortunately it is, at best, a bare assertion and, at worst, a circular argument, but one you are unlikely to get someone to drop because it requires it touches upon fundamental premises.
Kleptin
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5/29/2012 8:12:59 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
To that, I would ask: Why would God, in his omnipotence, allow us to choose between good and evil without fully knowing the consequences? What type of God would give us an inclination to perform acts of good that could possibly result in great evil?

Whether or not we are punished for that, on the basis of our ignorance and intention, we still generate evil for others. Shouldn't the choices we are offered be clear in their consequences?
: At 5/2/2010 2:43:54 PM, innomen wrote:
It isn't about finding a theory, philosophy or doctrine and thinking it's the answer, but a practical application of one's experiences that is the answer.

: At 10/28/2010 2:40:07 PM, jharry wrote: I have already been given the greatest Gift that anyone could ever hope for [Life], I would consider myself selfish if I expected anything more.
drafterman
Posts: 18,870
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5/29/2012 8:22:08 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 5/29/2012 8:12:59 AM, Kleptin wrote:
To that, I would ask: Why would God, in his omnipotence, allow us to choose between good and evil without fully knowing the consequences? What type of God would give us an inclination to perform acts of good that could possibly result in great evil?

Whether or not we are punished for that, on the basis of our ignorance and intention, we still generate evil for others. Shouldn't the choices we are offered be clear in their consequences?

And, as I said, you'll almost always run into the response of, "Because denying us Free Will is a greater evil."
Gileandos
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5/29/2012 8:31:27 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
I agree with Drafterman that morality within Christianity has both an action and intention component.

I would also point out that you are too focused on personal definitions of evil and good, rather than a Biblical concept as the Christian is focused.

The Bible recognizes different types of sin.
Known Sins and Unkown sins.
This is compounded by sins being circumstantial. (epistemology)
Followed by
A sin of ommission.
A sin of inaction.
etc..

For example: As with Adam and Eve, the consequence of actions are 'evil' as you would define it, but Adam and Eve were not guilty for the actions of Cain against Able, though it was a clear 'consequence' of their action.

A more relevant action to today, is to neglect your children will turn them into anything from sociopaths to drug addicts. You are not responsible for their actions, but you are responsible for your neglect before God.

All of that to say, your argument is addressed by the theological explanation God gives. What is incumbent upon us and what is not, does not require omniscience of God as we can 'practically' see events and actions of consequence.
GreatestIam
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5/29/2012 9:23:43 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
Christians are always trying to absolve God of moral culpability in the fall by whipping out their favorite "free will!", or " it's all man's fault".

That is "God gave us free will and it was our free willed choices that caused our fall. Hence God is not blameworthy."

But this simply avoids God's culpability as the author of Human Nature. Free will is only the ability to choose. It is not an explanation why anyone would want to choose "A" or "B" (bad or good action). An explanation for why Eve would even have the nature of "being vulnerable to being easily swayed by a serpent" and "desiring to eat a forbidden fruit" must lie in the nature God gave Eve in the first place. Hence God is culpable for deliberately making humans with a nature-inclined-to-fall, and "free will" means nothing as a response to this problem.

If all sin by nature then, the sin nature is dominant. If not, we would have at least some who would not sin.

Having said the above for the God that I do not believe in, I am a Gnostic Christian naturalist, let me tell you that it is all human generated. Evil is our responsibility.

Much has been written to explain what I see as a natural part of evolution.

Consider.
First, let us eliminate what some see as evil. Natural disasters. These are unthinking occurrences and are neither good nor evil. There is no intent to do evil even as victims are created.

Evil then is only human to human.
As evolving creatures, all we ever do, and ever can do, is compete or cooperate.
Cooperation we would see as good as there are no victims created. Competition would be seen as evil as it creates a victim. We all are either cooperating, doing good, or competing, doing evil at all times.

Without us doing some of both, we would likely go extinct.

This, to me, explains why there is evil in the world quite well.

Be you a believer in nature, evolution or God, we should all see that what Christians see as something to blame, evil, we should see that what we have, competition, deserves a huge thanks for bein available to us. Wherever it came from. God or nature.

There is no conflict between nature and God on this issue. This is how things are and should be.

Regards
DL
WriterDave
Posts: 934
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5/29/2012 9:35:39 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 5/29/2012 7:41:02 AM, Kleptin wrote:
I was having a discussion with a theistic friend and the issue of the Free Will rebuttal to the problem of evil came up.

I had originally planned to argue that God would still be responsible for the presence of evil since it is quite possible for him to fashion a world in which people could choose between neutral and good acts, or acts with differing levels of good. However, I could not socratically lead my friend into the admission that things could be differing levels of good or evil, as she maintains that acts that are good are good, and acts that are evil, are evil, and require the same degree of penitence in God's eyes.

I improvised a new argument. I illustrated how all acts have a butterfly effect and led her to admit that the good or evil designation of an act can be determined based on whether these butterfly effects led to a net good or a net evil act. Subsequently, I maintained that only God could determine that, as it required an omniscient being to determine something so complicated. She accepted that as well.

I then maintained that God, in fashioning humans, could not expect them to freely choose between good and evil without also granting us omniscience.

She had no response for this except that the Bible serves as a moral guide. This led to a lengthy side argument about the relevance of the Bible as a moral guide, leaving our discussion of the problem of evil unresolved.

What do you guys think of my argument, and do you know of any more concise arguments that can be used against the free will rebuttal? Preferably ones that can be presented to someone who has difficulty following formal syllogisms?

All moral guides whose pages would take less than (I'm guessing) a few galaxies' worth of pages to print themselves on would necessarily be incomplete; they can't tell you what to do, or even how to resolve basic guidelines for the sake of the good of all, in every conceivable situation.
Writer. Liberal atheist. Official "Official of the FREEDO Bureaucracy" of the FREEDO Bureaucracy.

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Ren
Posts: 7,102
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5/29/2012 9:37:36 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
Why does everyone here subscribe to the Problem of Evil so devoutly? It seems like such a painfully weak argument.

I mean, clearly, I'm not understanding it, because it really doesn't seem that compelling.

The Logical Problem of Evil:

- If an all-powerful and perfectly good god exists, then evil does not.
- There is evil in the world.
- Therefore, an all-powerful and perfectly good god does not exist.

How do we quantify the bolded? God is made distinct from "creation," because creation is capable of containing evil, while God is not capable of providing it.

So, we have evil, here on earth, and God, perfect amid the Heavens. He pervades all things, because He made all things (as we knew it), but He is not all things. God is not this chair. God is not the opinion of an atheist.

In any case, omnipotence is an assertion, and not something exercised by God, thus negating the possibility that it somehow detracts from free will.

- God exists.
- God is omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good.
- A perfectly good being would want to prevent all evils.
- An omniscient being knows every way in which evils can come into existence.
- An omnipotent being, who knows every way in which an evil can come into existence, has the power to prevent that evil from coming into existence.
- A being who knows every way in which an evil can come into existence, who is able to prevent that evil from coming into existence, and who wants to do so, would prevent the existence of that evil.
- If there exists an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good being, then no evil exists.
- Evil exists (logical contradiction).

How did we arrive to the bolded? I know at first, it seem to make sense, but pay attention to all of the qualifiers we have at play here. First, God is a good and perfect being, then He is the only good and perfect being. Therefore, the only way to create something that is free of evil (by being a good and perfect being) is to create Himself, and if He creates anything aside Himself, he thus creates something that is not perfectly good. In this way, it was God's intention to introduce evil as an inevitability, as He was lonely, and accepting evil into existence was a necessary remedy.

- There exist instances of intense suffering which an omnipotent, omniscient being could have prevented without thereby losing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse.
- An omniscient, wholly good being would prevent the occurrence of any intense suffering it could, unless it could not do so without thereby losing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse.
- (Therefore) There does not exist an omnipotent, omniscient, wholly good being.[2]

Here, again, we're talking wholly about prevention. It's essentially -- "so, if God doesn't like evil, why did he make man?"

That's a pretty sad way to put it... but, the answer is because he was lonely. Loneliness is one of the greater sources of sadness in the Bible. One of the first things God noticed about man was that man should not be lonely.

- Gratuitous evils exist.
- The hypothesis of indifference, i.e., that if there are supernatural beings they are indifferent to gratuitous evils, is a better explanation for (1) than theism.
- Therefore, evidence prefers that no god, as commonly understood by theists, exists.[14]

See, the thing is that the Christian God is almost indifferent. He's not actually indifferent to who we are, but He's fairly indifferent to our day-to-day. In other words, if we're generally evil people that do generally evil things, God would essentially reject us. However, those He would reject would reject Him as well. Nonetheless, it's not as though we're under any surveillance; in other words, God does not interject. He just lets things be, although there's suggestion that we can ask Him for things.

Problem of Evil Argument Against Free Will

- God's creation of persons with morally significant free will is something of tremendous value. God could not eliminate evil and suffering without thereby eliminating the greater good of having created persons with free will who can make moral choices.[2][8] Freedom (and, often it is said, the loving relationships which would not be possible without freedom) here is intended to provide a morally sufficient reason for God's allowing evil.[22]

Although God gave us free will, we wasn't to punish us for the things we did, because he didn't equip us with the capacity to tell the difference between right and wrong. In other words, essentially, we were like animals. However, we decided to take upon us the knowledge of good and evil, thereby making us accountable for our actions. So, God left us to be responsible of ourselves. That does not belie the capacity for free will, which we always had, evidenced by the capacity to disobey God.
yoda878
Posts: 902
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5/29/2012 9:59:35 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
I don't really know but I think of it like this...
God said by making good, evil showed its ugly face.
Isaiah 45:7
King James Version (KJV)
7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.

So i think this is like the cleansing ara, evil people will be justifiably separated form good.

Psalm 33:5
KJV)
5 He loves righteousness and justice;
The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.

He is a just god, so if a person is evil justice will be served.
God will not force us to be good, we have to choose that, if you want to be evil then you are evil. God is all about you choose to be a follower of him...
Think of it like this, you wouldn't want to force someone to be your spouse, you would just rather them choose by free will to be your spouse.
He wants us to choose to love one another and follow him, but that takes prayer and faith and frankly hard work. You have to want it, to be able to do it. Therefor you have to choose God.
Me
DATCMOTO
Posts: 6,160
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5/29/2012 10:04:30 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 5/29/2012 7:41:02 AM, Kleptin wrote:
I was having a discussion with a theistic friend and the issue of the Free Will rebuttal to the problem of evil came up.

I had originally planned to argue that God would still be responsible for the presence of evil since it is quite possible for him to fashion a world in which people could choose between neutral and good acts, or acts with differing levels of good. However, I could not socratically lead my friend into the admission that things could be differing levels of good or evil, as she maintains that acts that are good are good, and acts that are evil, are evil, and require the same degree of penitence in God's eyes.

I improvised a new argument. I illustrated how all acts have a butterfly effect and led her to admit that the good or evil designation of an act can be determined based on whether these butterfly effects led to a net good or a net evil act. Subsequently, I maintained that only God could determine that, as it required an omniscient being to determine something so complicated. She accepted that as well.

I then maintained that God, in fashioning humans, could not expect them to freely choose between good and evil without also granting us omniscience.

She had no response for this except that the Bible serves as a moral guide. This led to a lengthy side argument about the relevance of the Bible as a moral guide, leaving our discussion of the problem of evil unresolved.

What do you guys think of my argument, and do you know of any more concise arguments that can be used against the free will rebuttal? Preferably ones that can be presented to someone who has difficulty following formal syllogisms?

There are no neutral acts; acts are either good or evil.

The enemies WHOLE lie was that there was a third, or middle, way between good and evil, God's will or his.
The Cross.. the Cross.
DATCMOTO
Posts: 6,160
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5/29/2012 10:07:59 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 5/29/2012 8:12:59 AM, Kleptin wrote:
To that, I would ask: Why would God, in his omnipotence, allow us to choose between good and evil without fully knowing the consequences? What type of God would give us an inclination to perform acts of good that could possibly result in great evil?

Whether or not we are punished for that, on the basis of our ignorance and intention, we still generate evil for others. Shouldn't the choices we are offered be clear in their consequences?

A divorced man may love his ex wife more, as he now knows what he is missing..

A hot bubble bath is enjoyed more if taken after being soaked through in a winter rain shower..

Heaven is truly heaven after a life time of this 'life'.
The Cross.. the Cross.
DATCMOTO
Posts: 6,160
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5/29/2012 10:17:50 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 5/29/2012 9:23:43 AM, GreatestIam wrote:
Christians are always trying to absolve God of moral culpability in the fall by whipping out their favorite "free will!", or " it's all man's fault".

That is "God gave us free will and it was our free willed choices that caused our fall. Hence God is not blameworthy."

But this simply avoids God's culpability as the author of Human Nature. Free will is only the ability to choose. It is not an explanation why anyone would want to choose "A" or "B" (bad or good action). An explanation for why Eve would even have the nature of "being vulnerable to being easily swayed by a serpent" and "desiring to eat a forbidden fruit" must lie in the nature God gave Eve in the first place. Hence God is culpable for deliberately making humans with a nature-inclined-to-fall, and "free will" means nothing as a response to this problem.

If all sin by nature then, the sin nature is dominant. If not, we would have at least some who would not sin.


Having said the above for the God that I do not believe in, I am a Gnostic Christian naturalist, let me tell you that it is all human generated. Evil is our responsibility.

Much has been written to explain what I see as a natural part of evolution.

Consider.
First, let us eliminate what some see as evil. Natural disasters. These are unthinking occurrences and are neither good nor evil. There is no intent to do evil even as victims are created.

Evil then is only human to human.
As evolving creatures, all we ever do, and ever can do, is compete or cooperate.
Cooperation we would see as good as there are no victims created. Competition would be seen as evil as it creates a victim. We all are either cooperating, doing good, or competing, doing evil at all times.

Without us doing some of both, we would likely go extinct.

This, to me, explains why there is evil in the world quite well.

Be you a believer in nature, evolution or God, we should all see that what Christians see as something to blame, evil, we should see that what we have, competition, deserves a huge thanks for bein available to us. Wherever it came from. God or nature.

There is no conflict between nature and God on this issue. This is how things are and should be.

Regards
DL

Adam was made from the earth (matter) and God breathed Life (Spirit) into Him and he became a living being.

Eve was made from Adam's flesh (matter) for Adam.

Hence, Eve was not a spiritual being UNLESS she obeyed Adam word, which was of course God's word. (Spirit)

So God's word IS life, if obeyed.

Disobedience IS death.

Eve (matter) was deceived, Adam (spirit) CHOSE his flesh.

John 1:14
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The Cross.. the Cross.
Stephen_Hawkins
Posts: 5,316
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5/29/2012 10:20:57 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
Just a word of advice with discourse: always end your argumentation with the affirmation of the point you want to make in general, not just the actual discussion. So with the final point going onto biblical morality, you should say what you want then end "...thus it is possible for good/neutral actions to exist as a dichotomy, without [so much] evil"
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

Social Contract Theory debate: http://www.debate.org...
DATCMOTO
Posts: 6,160
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5/29/2012 10:22:50 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 5/29/2012 10:20:57 AM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
Just a word of advice with discourse: always end your argumentation with the affirmation of the point you want to make in general, not just the actual discussion. So with the final point going onto biblical morality, you should say what you want then end "...thus it is possible for good/neutral actions to exist as a dichotomy, without [so much] evil"

The worst vice: adVICE..
The Cross.. the Cross.
Gileandos
Posts: 2,394
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5/29/2012 11:10:35 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 5/29/2012 10:22:50 AM, DATCMOTO wrote:
At 5/29/2012 10:20:57 AM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
Just a word of advice with discourse: always end your argumentation with the affirmation of the point you want to make in general, not just the actual discussion. So with the final point going onto biblical morality, you should say what you want then end "...thus it is possible for good/neutral actions to exist as a dichotomy, without [so much] evil"

The worst vice: adVICE..

I found this highly amusing statement, but I found Stephen Hawkins advice quite valid.
cbrhawk1
Posts: 588
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5/29/2012 11:32:39 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
A person's "will" remains undefined, so even asking this question and trying to get a clear and understood answer is impossible. We do not know how consciousness interacts with the laws of nature, if it even does. Only when we can define consciousness can we even answer the questions pertaining to free will and if it is possible.

And, what is free will?

I think it's a meaningless argument, to be honest, because even if our decisions are a part of God's plan, we still make those decisions in the same way as a computer makes decisions when we don't know the outcome of those decisions.

God could have programmed humanity in a similar fashion where,, while he knew what we would decide, he didn't directly decide for us.
"All science is 'wrong.'" ~ drafterman
GreatestIam
Posts: 1,723
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5/29/2012 12:48:38 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 5/29/2012 11:32:39 AM, cbrhawk1 wrote:
A person's "will" remains undefined, so even asking this question and trying to get a clear and understood answer is impossible. We do not know how consciousness interacts with the laws of nature, if it even does.

LOL.
Try putting a hand to a hot stove and come back and tell us your consciousness did not react to the reality that you find there in terms of laws of nature.


Only when we can define consciousness can we even answer the questions pertaining to free will and if it is possible.

And, what is free will?


The ability to choose between given parameters.
You do this all the time. One lump or two.


I think it's a meaningless argument, to be honest, because even if our decisions are a part of God's plan, we still make those decisions in the same way as a computer makes decisions when we don't know the outcome of those decisions.

God could have programmed humanity in a similar fashion where,, while he knew what we would decide, he didn't directly decide for us.

Can a computer give up or change it's programming?

You can by giving up your free will.

That is how you test for it. You give it up to someone else's will.
An easy test. Let me know if you wish to take it.

Regards
DL
DATCMOTO
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5/31/2012 4:41:32 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 5/29/2012 12:48:38 PM, GreatestIam wrote:
At 5/29/2012 11:32:39 AM, cbrhawk1 wrote:
A person's "will" remains undefined, so even asking this question and trying to get a clear and understood answer is impossible. We do not know how consciousness interacts with the laws of nature, if it even does.

LOL.
Try putting a hand to a hot stove and come back and tell us your consciousness did not react to the reality that you find there in terms of laws of nature.


Only when we can define consciousness can we even answer the questions pertaining to free will and if it is possible.

And, what is free will?


The ability to choose between given parameters.
You do this all the time. One lump or two.


No, there are only two ways to make a choice regarding sugar lumps; God's way and the devils way:

God's way is to acknowledge that the sugar is a gift from Him and that the reason you are rich enough to afford TWO lumps is by His grace..

The enemies way is to believe that it's MY sugar, I earned it by the sweat of my brow, and I'm also spoilt and proud enough to worry about my weight and appearance etc.. (depression, anxiety etc is ALL narcissism)

I think it's a meaningless argument, to be honest, because even if our decisions are a part of God's plan, we still make those decisions in the same way as a computer makes decisions when we don't know the outcome of those decisions.

God could have programmed humanity in a similar fashion where,, while he knew what we would decide, he didn't directly decide for us.

Can a computer give up or change it's programming?

You can by giving up your free will.

That is how you test for it. You give it up to someone else's will.
An easy test. Let me know if you wish to take it.

Regards
DL


A computer programme can change IF new information is programmed in by The Programmer, we call this being born again!
The Cross.. the Cross.
GreatestIam
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5/31/2012 7:22:26 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
True but idol worshipers like you refuse the new programming for the 3,000 year old one.

Christianity is based on human sacrifice and you wish to profit from the murder of an innocent man. Quite immoral of you.

Regards
DL
cbrhawk1
Posts: 588
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5/31/2012 8:10:25 AM
Posted: 4 years ago

LOL.
Try putting a hand to a hot stove and come back and tell us your consciousness did not react to the reality that you find there in terms of laws of nature.


But, why would I remove my hand? It is the desire and will to live that causes me not to want to do things like that. The desire to survive is a part of consciousness that science cannot account for. It can't explain why we have this desire to remove our hand from the fire empirically, so there's no reason to suggest that it obeys the laws of nature.

The ability to choose between given parameters.
You do this all the time. One lump or two.


That does not say our will is free. That simply says we make decisions. It's no different than a computer.


Can a computer give up or change it's programming?

You can by giving up your free will.


It can't. But, what's to suggest that our programming changes? Predetermination means that the Universe will do what it does, and us being programs based on what kind of input we will receive, will spit out the exact same thing with any given brain and body state.

That is how you test for it. You give it up to someone else's will.
An easy test. Let me know if you wish to take it.

You act as if this problem is solved. It isn't. I believe in human decision making, but not absolute free will.
"All science is 'wrong.'" ~ drafterman
Susej12
Posts: 17
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6/7/2012 5:02:57 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 5/31/2012 8:10:25 AM, cbrhawk1 wrote:

LOL.
Try putting a hand to a hot stove and come back and tell us your consciousness did not react to the reality that you find there in terms of laws of nature.


But, why would I remove my hand? It is the desire and will to live that causes me not to want to do things like that. The desire to survive is a part of consciousness that science cannot account for. It can't explain why we have this desire to remove our hand from the fire empirically, so there's no reason to suggest that it obeys the laws of nature.

Seriously. Are you joking? The reason things want to survive is that if they did't they wouldn't, and therefore they wouldn't be here for us to talk about them. Learn a little about evolution before you go about disproving it.