One of my blogging buddies, myatheistlife, made a case for free will which can be found here, here, here and here which I did disagree with. I ask you to read the articles he wrote, they are well argued though in the end I didn’t think he made a strong case for free will. For those of you, who have followed this blog for sometime know that I hold the belief that free will is a chimera. We live in a deterministic world. Our actions appear to us to be freely willed, and freely chosen but this is just an appearance, an illusion.
My friend mentions Dennett, who for all intents and purposes I think holds the idea there is no free will but thinks people need not be told they have no free will that it is bad for society. I think this is analogous to not telling men that they share a common ancestry with other apes fearing that they will start to behave like apes[most behave worse than apes without holding this to be true].
In the Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche writes of four great errors;
- The error of confusing cause and effect,
- The error of false causality,
- The error of imaginary causes, and lastly
- The error of free will.
He says this of the error of free will, and I find it agreeable, that without the desire to punish, the need free will does just not arise.
Today we no longer have any tolerance for the idea of free will; we see it only too clearly for what it really is- the foulest of all theological fictions, intended to make mankind responsible in a religious sense- that is dependent upon priests. […]
He goes on to say,
Whenever responsibility is assigned , it is usually so that judgment and punishment can follow. Becoming has been deprived of its innocence when any acting the way you did is traced back to will, to motives, to responsible choices; the doctrine of the will has been invented essentially to justify punishment through the pretext of assigning guilt.
The Hebrews priests, not being able to explain why their god allowed them to suffer, resolved that it must have been men’s failure to do as god willed/ commanded that they were punished. By telling men they had wronged god, the priests were for all intents assured of a steady income as long as they maintained they were spokesmen/ agents of the supposed god they had created. This folly has been passed down to us.
Alvin Platinga in his attempt to explain away evil in the world, advanced the free will defense that many theists, apologists and theologians use to justify and defend any attempts at showing that if the Abrahamic god does exist, then among other things he is capricious, a cruel bastard and a fiend. If this god were to exist, and is responsible for everything that exists, then there is no explaining away evil free will or not.
Nietzsche continues on this absurd psychology
All primitive psychology, the psychology of will, arises from the fact that its interpreters, the priests at the head of ancient communities, wanted to create for themselves the right to punish- or wanted to create this right for their god. Men were considered free only so that they maybe considered guilty – could be judged and punished; consequently every act had to be considered as willed and the origin of every act had to be considered as lying within the consciousness.
And finishes by saying what our duty is, that is, we must free the world of the idea of punishment and guilt, and by extension of morality objective or otherwise.
Today we immoralists have embarked on a counter movement and trying with all our strength to take the concepts of guilt and punishment out of the world- to cleanse psychology, history, nature and social institutions and sanctions of these ideas. And there is in our eyes no more radical opposition than that of the theologians, who continue to infect the innocence of becoming by means of the concepts of “a moral world order”, “guilt” and “punishment”. Christianity is a religion for the executioner.