on atheism, determinism and other stories

The holiday season has come to an end, for me, that is. I had a good break. I will be resuming work shortly. I hope all of you have been well.

I have a feeling this post maybe slightly lengthy, but bear with me. Thank you.

In the burden of proof, the author is trying to make a case that atheists have a burden of proof to dispense and or they should shut up. We shouldn’t, as non believers, speak of non belief. Let the theist tell us what their god is, where it is and maybe, just maybe, we can talk.

The author of why did god give man freewill? has jumped many guns to arrive at their answer. There is implied in the post a god, that this god created or had a role in the being of human persons and finally that this god has endowed said humans with freewill. The post is also trying to excuse the believers god from responsibility in the shit that goes around. God has to be made to appear good at all costs. The author also appears to know the nature of god and among other things tells us their god is humble!

In the denial of freewill and its grave conclusions, the author has gone off the rails.

The author of deterring determinism believes he has made a proper case against determinism. He writes

a critical examination of the determinism arguments reveals crippling flaws, and solid philosophy, scientific evidence, and common sense all undeniably affirm that people have free will.

and we only can hope there is evidence to support such assertions. I haven’t read Skinner and I don’t know if he is the most famous determinist but what Ambrose quotes, such as,

Skinner believed that most people think they have free will only because they are unaware of all the external factors influencing their thoughts and actions. He argued that people who break the law only do so because their environment and past molds them to behave in that particular way.

have been said or written by many others writing before him. The author is encouraged to read the works of Jean Messlier, Schopenhauer among others.

Ambrose makes an outlandish claim, without any basis in fact, that

All arguments for determinism are greatly crippled by a lack of trustworthiness.

where is his evidence for this. He argues that since determinists argue our actions are caused, we can’t believe our convictions. I am at a loss how these two issues relate.

He then writes

Another problem with the arguments against free will is the general lack of proof determinists have to defend their position (Augros). Determinists have a crushing burden of proof, and they have been unable to live up to it thus far. They must prove, not only that human behavior is influenced by external factors, but they must also prove that external factors are the only influence.

How would Ambrose want his bar met? Has he thought of an experiment or a mathematical formula with values that we can feed into an equation and viola, determinism is proven. Short of this, I think, it is enough for the determinist to demonstrate by argument alone the influence of external factors in human behaviour.

Contrary to what Ambrose is saying here

Free will allows for influences to exist. Nobody will deny that there are many different temptations, motivations, and attractions behind different choices

with freewill, influences wouldn’t matter. A person can act as they so wish. Influences only make sense in a determinist universe.

Again why would freewill allow limitations? All a person would need is more freewill and they be good. With enough freewill, one can choose to be the Crown prince of Saudi Arabia or even the greatest sports person, all other influences be damned.

In a case of comparing of apples to oranges, Ambrose decides for his evidence, to compare humans to non living things. It would have helped his case if he were to maybe compare humans with apes or donkeys. There is  no need to refute this particular argument.

Ambrose then tells us because famous philosophers and pseudo-philosophers have argued for freewill, it must be true. He also claims because the belief has endured, it must be true. Against this, I will say determinism must be true because famous philosophers have argued it is and it too, has endured in the human psyche.

Having failed to show any of the fatal flaws of determinism, Ambrose then tells us determinism in unreasonable; under it there is no reason to punish wrongdoers. It is only under it that punishment for rehabilitation would make sense. The determinist argues that training has influence on behaviour and rehabilitative measures would qualify as these influences. It makes no sense under freewill to punish anyone. All they need is more freewill and they should be good. Education has no part in behaviour.

If all our actions have causes, is there need for rewards? Does it matter? Or do they only matter in a freewill universe? I say rewards makes more sense in a determinist universe since they form part of the influences that would make others strive for recognition for acts of valor.

I am not sure when he writes

the soldier sacrificing himself for his comrades has no choice but to do so, and he should not be praised for his noble actions.

he sees the influence of training hidden in the label soldier. Is he blind to their training among other things?

I will argue, in conclusion, that none of the the posts above have made a convincing case for their positions. The authors chose either to attack atheism and determinism [ I think in the hope of arguing against a naturalistic universe] but have failed to do so.