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Atheism and Philosophy, w/ Video

progressivedem22
Posts: 1,304
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3/22/2014 11:23:23 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
I know that there may be objections to the title of this thread, since atheism is not a religion, and I question whether we could call it a philosophy -- but even if we could, the religion forum would be an odd place for it. But, nevertheless, I think this is a topic that religious and non-religious people should weigh in on, and the bearing belief or lack thereof would have on this topic.

The precise question I'd like to ask pertains to the theory of mind in relation to religion. Surely there are open questions as to the existence of free will, or on the other hand, the prevalence of some sort of causal determinism. Michio Kaku of CUNY, who has spoken quite neutrally about religion, actually argued for the existence of free will ().

So, the questions we ought to consider, I think, are as follows:

1. Is Michio Kaku's argument plausible?
2. Is free will or causal determinism more plausible?
3. Is it fair to say that atheism does not take a stance on the free will vs. determinism debate, or do people like Hawking -- who, I believe, is a determinist -- or Sam Harris speak for the vast majority?
4. If there is a such thing as free will, can we extrapolate that into some type of higher power, or is that a massive non sequitur?
5. Could we reconcile causal determinism with some type of faith -- e.g., the Calvinist view of predestination? Or, can we essentially disprove faith simply by demonstrating that free will, as we understand it, is baloney?

Interested in getting some thoughts on these questions.
bladerunner060
Posts: 7,126
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3/22/2014 11:40:28 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 3/22/2014 11:23:23 AM, progressivedem22 wrote:
I know that there may be objections to the title of this thread, since atheism is not a religion, and I question whether we could call it a philosophy -- but even if we could, the religion forum would be an odd place for it. But, nevertheless, I think this is a topic that religious and non-religious people should weigh in on, and the bearing belief or lack thereof would have on this topic.

The precise question I'd like to ask pertains to the theory of mind in relation to religion. Surely there are open questions as to the existence of free will, or on the other hand, the prevalence of some sort of causal determinism. Michio Kaku of CUNY, who has spoken quite neutrally about religion, actually argued for the existence of free will ().

So, the questions we ought to consider, I think, are as follows:

1. Is Michio Kaku's argument plausible?

That BigThink video seems to draw a connection between the uncertainty principle and free will. I don't think he can make that connection--after all, we are macro, not quantum, level beings. Perhaps he's expanded on it elsewhere?

2. Is free will or causal determinism more plausible?

"We have to believe in free will. We have no choice in the matter".

Don't know who said it, but I love it.

I also see it as similar to solipsism, or P-zombies. I'm not sure we can possibly be certain that there is free will. Certainly feels that way, though, and I would argue that it's up to the determinists to prove their case, and in the mean time it's reasonable to assume free will exists.

3. Is it fair to say that atheism does not take a stance on the free will vs. determinism debate, or do people like Hawking -- who, I believe, is a determinist -- or Sam Harris speak for the vast majority?

I'm not sure if they speak for the vast majority. Atheism does not necessarily take such a stance, and I'm familiar with many atheists who don't.

4. If there is a such thing as free will, can we extrapolate that into some type of higher power, or is that a massive non sequitur?

Non sequitur.

5. Could we reconcile causal determinism with some type of faith -- e.g., the Calvinist view of predestination? Or, can we essentially disprove faith simply by demonstrating that free will, as we understand it, is baloney?

I doubt you can disprove faith almost definitionally. However, I don't see our having free will as being necessary for it to be true that there's a god, even though I don't believe in a god.

Interested in getting some thoughts on these questions.
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Double_R
Posts: 4,886
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3/22/2014 11:55:51 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 3/22/2014 11:23:23 AM, progressivedem22 wrote:
1. Is Michio Kaku's argument plausible?

I don't recall him making one. He talked about a few different arguments presented by a few different people.

2. Is free will or causal determinism more plausible?

I don't think causal determinism necessarily impedes on free will. The question regarding free will is not about whether our actions are already determined, but who determined them. In an existence where everything was decided outside of time itself there is no before and after, so it is plausible that the path of my life was still decided by me even if it was not decided in the same sense that we experience it.

An all powerful, all knowing God who created the universe however, would have had to have different choices as to what universe to create, knowledge of how each option would have turned out for all of us, and made the choice to create this one where you are sitting here reading this right now. That is not free will.

3. Is it fair to say that atheism does not take a stance on the free will vs. determinism debate, or do people like Hawking -- who, I believe, is a determinist -- or Sam Harris speak for the vast majority?

Atheism is a lack of belief in a God, nothing more. It cannot, by definition, take a stance on anything. With that said, Atheists are human beings and thus do have beliefs many of which are very common among them, but I am not convinced that there is a common stance on this issue.

4. If there is a such thing as free will, can we extrapolate that into some type of higher power, or is that a massive non sequitur?

I don't see how free will has anything to do with a higher power.

5. Could we reconcile causal determinism with some type of faith -- e.g., the Calvinist view of predestination? Or, can we essentially disprove faith simply by demonstrating that free will, as we understand it, is baloney?

Most religious individuals I discuss this with reconcile them in the same way that I did, although I have yet to hear them respond to the point about God making the choice.