The Argument for Free Will
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
08-05-2011, 02:14 PM
The Argument for Free Will
Okay, I know that the posters from the "Evolution is a Fairytale" forum are no longer posting here, so I did not get a chance to address a post in this thread that I found interesting (last post on the page). I would have addressed it earlier if I had been here last week, but I did not have access to (reliable) internet, as I was on vacation.

Here is the specific quote that I would like to address (for the full convo, go to the original thread):
ikester7579 wrote:
Quote:There is the matter of freewill. A person cannot be responsible for actions he had a no freewill choice in. If the person is mentally ill, has a chemical imbalance in the brain, then they would be considered innocent and here's why:

James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

If good cannot be comprehended because of a mental condition, then evil cannot be defined either. So the person does not knoweth to do good, so it's not a sin. The only choices a person can be judge on are freewill choices. Because freewill choices only point to the person who made them. They cannot be blamed on a condition, or another person.

According to this line of thought, psychopaths are all going to heaven. They do not have a sense of "right" or "wrong" like most human beings. They are simply selfish to the extreme and need instant gratification. Consequences or others' feelings/thoughts do not play into their actions (i.e. they do not feel empathy). Because this is a neurological condition (i.e. psychopaths are born, not created [different, I believe, from sociopaths]), based on ikester's post, the psychopath's actions and thoughts are out of his (never "her") control. In other words, the psychopath has no free will and therefore he is always innocent and will go to heaven. Even if he is a serial killer and/or rapist.

So, really, what makes the psychopath's brain any different from any other human brain (besides the obvious differences that result in a psychopath's behaviour vs. any other human's)? We do not choose our pre-natal and childhood environment for the most part. (I realise there are some exceptions: i.e. children who run away from home, for example.) We definitely do not choose our genes. Yet, we know that our brains develop as a result of the combination of genetics and environment. We have very little control over how our brains develop. Sure, when we are old enough to understand our brains, we can take steps to ensure that it remains healthy (by living healthy lives), but we cannot always control our thoughts, let alone all the chemical reactions that occur between the synapses in our brain. So, please, can anybody tell me how this is "free will"? Or, at the very least, arguments that you have heard theists make for the existence of free will that takes into account what we currently know about the brain and human development/behaviour?

"Remember, my friend, that knowledge is stronger than memory, and we should not trust the weaker." - Dr. Van Helsing, Dracula
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes SecularStudent's post
08-05-2011, 02:50 PM
RE: The Argument for Free Will
I don't feel like Ikester's logic would pan out very well either. If something has to feel wrong for it to be wrong, then so long as a person doesn't feel remorse, than they didn't do anything wrong. But I think how most theists would address this would be along the lines of "They do know good, if not in their hearts than in the Bible". Logic still doesn't pan out very well there, but that's the most common bit I hear.

I don't believe Jesus is the son of God until I see the long form birth certificate!
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
08-05-2011, 04:53 PM (This post was last modified: 08-05-2011 05:26 PM by Tim_Kiebooms.)
RE: The Argument for Free Will
This was a reply to one of my questions if i'm not mistaking. It actually didn't answer my question, but merely a part of it. Spectre's interpretation of my question was comparable so i guess i chose the wrong words.

My idea was that if diseases can alter personality that would mean that personality and choice of action is material and therefor not part of your "soul". This means that all your actions and decisions, but also your feel with morality are part of the brains. Which would eventually mean God is sending only the souls of the people who had the best brains to heaven (which would be pure madness since actions, morality and believes are part of your brain, which will be gone at that point).
So apparently you're good to go to heaven if you've got this "believing-part" in your brain, also known as naïvety.

About free will: Your brain doesn't only define who you are, it is who you are, there is no "you" without it. If your brain makes a decision (even unconsciously), it is in fact you who makes the decision (but it doesn't mean you can always control it). Free will is present, when you've got a choice. I think there's been enough of these situations in life so i've acknowledged the (limited) existence of free will.
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
08-05-2011, 05:16 PM
RE: The Argument for Free Will
I've always wondered where the brain ends and the soul begins in a Christian's mind. Does God create souls and zaps them into bodies? When exactly does the come attach to the body? Does this soul have any prior knowledge? If so, do we forget it? If not, what exactly does it do until the person grows? Even after the person is grown, what exactly does this soul do that our brains are unable to do? Do souls have senses? Can they see without any sort of eye? And if so, if God can create things that can sense the world without and ears or eyes, why did he put them on our bodies? I might go to a Christian site and ask these questions. And I swear to God, it won't be like last time.

I don't believe Jesus is the son of God until I see the long form birth certificate!
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
09-05-2011, 10:06 AM
RE: The Argument for Free Will
Hey, SecularStudent.

Man, I'd love to spend 24 hours inside your brain. You always ask the greatest questions.

I think that a person with a disease like psychopathy doesn't have free will in the purest sense. There are treatments and it can be overcome in some cases, but a specific part of the disorder is the inability to discern between right and wrong. They cannot choose one or the other because they can't grasp the differentiation. Psychopaths are not held responsible for their actions in courts of law because they don’t choose to behave in a given manner; they are driven to their behaviour. It's not a choice they make but a compulsion they cannot control.

I think that free will in the God sense is that he gives us all the ability to choose between right and wrong. It's that choice which dictates where we go. So yes, there is a case to be made for all-psychopaths-go-to-Heaven if the criterion for entrance is not choosing to do wrong.

Then there is the question of, is killing a sin in and of itself? It could be argued that in the Catholic sense, a psychopath cannot repent and show remorse for what they've done (because psychopaths are incapable of feeling remorse for anything) and can therefore not be forgiven and therefore not granted access to Heaven. It could also be argued that their inability to repent could land them in Purgatory.

It's difficult to think of psychopaths as innocents because we spend so much time demonising them, but to a large extent they are innocent. They didn't ask to be psychopaths and they can't help themselves. If they killed wilfully, they wouldn't be innocent. But they don't will anything, they are compelled. This theological argument is shrouded in the bias of a social view of psychopaths. The mentally ill have long been stigmatised in our culture. The question of a psychopath's innocence might not be a question in another culture.

To answer your question about difference, psychopathy is a disorder. The difference between their brains and ours is that their brains are diseased. Psychopaths are psychopaths because the genetic predisposition for psychopathy present in their genotype was able to be expressed phenotypically within their given environment. Some people might have the genotype for psychopathy but might not ever manifest the phenotype due to environmental factors and therefore do not suffer from the disease. The rest of us are completely free from the disorder. The point is, a healthy brain, one free from disease, has free will in the pure sense because we are all capable, from quite an early age, of discerning right from wrong (according to Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development, it’s only when we reach the concrete operational stage [age 7-11] that we can view things through another’s perspective [elimination of egocentrism]. Within the concrete operational stage, we enter the moral realism stage [understanding that there are rules to abide by] followed by the second stage of moral development, the moral relativism stage [the understanding that rules can be changed upon agreement, that they only function if everyone follows them and that punishment only occurs if you’re caught, along with the ability to distinguish between someone who accidentally broke a rule and someone who intentionally broke a rule]. Some new studies [from the Infant Cognition Centre at Yale] suggest we may have a predilection to side with good as early as six months of age; a sort of built in moral guide as opposed to the Freudian idea of us being born as amoral animals). It should be noted that the development of the ability to tell right from wrong is independent from the debate about whether morality is absolute or relative to a given culture. The important thing is the ability to learn the structure of morality and operate within that structure.

So for sure, most of us have free will. Like the quote suggests, knowing what is right and doing wrong anyway is the sin. I don't know exactly how God (assuming there is one) sorts those incapable of making the choice. They may very well be considered innocents. They may be denied access to Heaven. They may have to do a stint in Purgatory first. Whatever the case, they seem to fall into the exception to the rule category.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
09-05-2011, 11:12 AM
RE: The Argument for Free Will
The thing that continues to bother me about this is the general concept of freewill. I still do not understand how an omnipotent, omniscient being who knows what choices you are going to make before you do and judges you based on these decisions constitutes free will. Psychopaths that do not have the ability to discern right from wrong or do not understand emotions like a "normal" person does, was made that way by god (presumably). If that person is damned to hell for their actions but god made them that way and knew what decisions they were going to make then did he not damn them to hell? Why make them with deficient brains in the first place if they do "evil" deeds? Do they not set a bad example to the rest of society? If someone is influenced by a psychopath and the psychopath goes to heaven but the "normal" person who was influenced by them goes to hell is that not a form of entrapment? The argument for free will from a Christians perspective is less stable than a house of cards and makes no more sense than trying to walk on the surface of the sun.

“Science is simply common sense at its best, that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic.”
—Thomas Henry Huxley
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
09-05-2011, 09:07 PM
RE: The Argument for Free Will
(09-05-2011 10:06 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, SecularStudent.

Man, I'd love to spend 24 hours inside your brain. You always ask the greatest questions.

I'll take that as a compliment Big Grin

"Remember, my friend, that knowledge is stronger than memory, and we should not trust the weaker." - Dr. Van Helsing, Dracula
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
10-05-2011, 12:46 AM
RE: The Argument for Free Will
@TheBeardedDude I agree. It takes no more than 5 minutes thinking to realise just how convoluted and completely messed up all that is.

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forego their use." - Galileo

"Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do." - Voltaire
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes daemonowner's post
Post Reply
Forum Jump: