Showing posts with label free will. Show all posts
Showing posts with label free will. Show all posts

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Manners, Atheists and Free Will.

Those who do recognize their own authority rests in their own moral sense and thinking mind have the chance to operate with a sort of free will.

At least God gives believers the option to be moral or not.  Forget for the moment forgiveness of sin.  At least there is a choice.  In my experience the subconscious social rules in big things and little like manners learned at mama's knee allow no choice at all.  One can reason about them, but only in quiet contemplation not in the activities of life. 

Good manners were drilled into this atheist right down to which fork to use for what course.  I still find myself changing forks to eat melon after breakfast.  I learned to eat Chinese food and use chopsticks as an adult and learned Chinese table manners along with chopsticks. 

Now picture a very high class Chinese Wedding, as one of the few Euro-Americans at the wedding, the groom was far from friends and family, I was seated at the bride's mother's table with the groom's few family members.  As a courtesy the table was set with English tableware.  All went well until the duck course where I was visibly distressed to be unable to eat the 2 in. cube of meat and bones with my fork.  The hostess suggested that if I didn't like it I should pass, I gathered my wits and very courteously asked for chopsticks so I could enjoy it as it was a special treat.  That shut up the shrill voice in my head as my mother knew nothing at all about chopsticks.   

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Free Will and Religion


Why am I misunderstanding freewill?

Let's cut to the chase. People make choices. These choices have various levels of constraint on them for a variety of reasons. This has nothing to do with free will in a religious context.

Free will in a religious context is whether human choices are controlled by God, or if certain choices such as a choice of a religious tradition or belief in God are unconstrained by God. For an atheist there are no choices constrained by God as there is no God. It is really that simple.

If you want more on constrained choices, all social animals have what passes for a conscience which is trained initially by mama smacking herm on the butt when hesh does something not permitted by the herd or society. As hesh gets older mentors and/or alphas take over from mama with increasing severe punishments up to exclusion from the herd or tribe which is in effect a death sentence quick or slow depending on the environment. Those who watch the fate of one "thrown to the wolves" very quickly internally constrain the behavior that led to the action.

None of this is really conscious behavior, either in training or accepting the constraints of the conscience. It is simply part of staying alive in the group. Humans and perhaps other animals have some conscious control over the dictates of conscience, and may choose to behave differently from the group if necessary or desirable. You may call this free will or intelligent choice, it makes no difference. The alpha says frog you may or may not choose to hop. But you know in some cases refusing to hop is to be thrown to the wolves. In some cases the wolves are a better choice. This is free will.

In a religious context if a major component of your self worthiness is defined as sin, say not believing in the local God or one of His stupid rules, the atheist wolves may be the only choice. We really aren't as scary as mama tol' ya we are, but for some religious people especially teens suicide is a reasonable alternative. Always talk to an atheist first.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Constrained Choice

Is the world intrinsically knowable? - Beliefnet

"The option to free will is constrained choice.

Believer or atheist, one can go months making choices that while theoretically can go either way are constrained. The constraint for believers comes from the little tinhorn in the fancy dress in the overdecorated balcony speaking for the local mores in the congregation or denomination. In the case of a non-believer the choice is constrained by their internalization of the mores of their chosen society.

If you really dig out the root of the constraint in either case it is the memory of a parent shaking herm finger and saying 'We don't do that!' The we is clearly defined in the child's mind as everybody in the child's world. Siblings, relatives, other caregivers, friends, and God if the parents are believers. In big things like unprovoked hitting, or little things like table manners, one simply has no free will to do what is contrary to a life time of doing 'What is right' and not doing 'We don't do that!'

As a thought experiment, at a formal dinner, say your daughter's wedding banquet, imagine yourself making the free will choice to pick up the bone of the steak and gnaw on it.

Go ahead. You have free will. Your daughter won't spoil the party by slapping you upside the head and shouting use your damn knife and fork.

Your spouse won't give you that look that says you are sleeping in the doghouse tonight. Hmm, since that is a very private communication hesh might, but your free will will let you ignore that.

So what is stopping you? You have free will! Go ahead. The best part of the steak is the taste of the bone."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What is Free Will?

Belief of No Free Will... - Beliefnet

the question of whether free will exists -- and, in particular, whether people believe it exists -- has some solid real-world repercussions.

Consider, for example, the following 2008 social psychology experiment. Researchers Kathleen Vohs, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota, and Jonathan Schooler, professor of psychology at University of California-Santa Babara, put subjects in front of a computer and asked them to read either a neutral passage or else a passage arguing that free will does not exist and claiming that most scientists agree.

"The problem I have with the experiment in the OP and this thread in general is that free will is ultimately a religious concept in the sense that free will must come from something, presumably God. The concept is that God provides a bunch of rules and constraints on behavior, then 'Gives' free will to obey or disobey those constraints. One may choose to obey a directive or not in the larger sense but the directive is assumed to be absolute.

A much more useful way of looking at things is the source of the constraints on behavior that we choose to accept. This assumes that unconstrained choice is the natural state of human cognition, and it is the constraints on acting out the choices which are the important considerations.

This changes the whole picture. Free will is not a gift or an option it is the natural state of the human mind. We can and do think about all sorts of behaviors that might be expressed. However, as a part of being socialized as a child and to a lesser extent as an adult member of a society, and perhaps partly instinctual as a social animal, there are certain behaviors that may not be expressed. Once internalized as a constraint, we have no 'free will' to express the behavior. At the very least our self-image as a moral and ethical member of our society will prevent the expression of the thought as behavior. Of course fear of Hell or jail may reinforce the decision. but ultimately it is the internalization of the constraint which determines the control of the behavior. Free will has nothing at all to do with it."

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Free Will

Beliefnet Community > Thread - Why does anyone believe in G-d?:
Only you can decide what you do with your free will that God has given.

"I am not sure where my free will comes from. I suspect from one of my ancestors that decided that the savanna looked more profitable than swinging in trees. Probably one of his buddies told him that if God wanted him to be on the savanna his knuckles wouldn't scrape on the ground like that, but whatever. God still is the conservative guy that says do this it works, and there are always a few of us that use our free will to see if there might be a better way. Some of us think we have found it, and it makes sense for us. Maybe that is why God gave us free will, to find a better way. My guess is that free will came from somewhere else, but it does let us find a different way, maybe better maybe not, but it looks better to me which is why I choose it."