Freewill and divine will

[A]s little as a ball on a billiard table can move before receiving an impact, so little can a man get up from his chair before being drawn or driven by a motive. But then his getting up is as necessary and inevitable as the rolling of a ball after the impact. And to expect that anyone will do something to which absolutely no interest impels them is the same as to expect that a piece of wood shall move toward me without being pulled by a string.

Arthur Schopenhauer

For clarity purposes, the following terms when used on this blog in discussions on freewill have the following limited meanings

determined -our actions are caused

freewill -our actions are uncaused

choice -awareness of alternatives

You may have other definitions, they are not relevant in this discussion.

The author of freewill vs divine will wishes to answer

Why must we answer for our sins, if God has already predestined them?

The post is by a creationist, believes Adam was the first man. Let this not distract you from the discussion.

The believer tells us god created Adam in paradise and banished them to earth after eating the fruit. Where is paradise? I would love to know the coördinates.

Religion is for the crazies. It creates a dilemma and then seeks to solve it. Here, the Muslim has imagined a god, a first man, eternal damnation, freewill and now tries to solve it.

She tells us

The first time I read the Quran, I was also puzzled as to why some verses indicate that Allah is able to guide those who are astray, but He chooses not to. So if some have strayed, why do they have to answer for their sins, if Allah is the one who has willed them to be astray?

and it leaves me puzzled why anyone with any common sense would continue to worship a god whose whims are so arbitrary. At least with a despot you know those whom he hates and his favourites. He condemns or saves arbitrarily. A god who would save but chooses not to so it can punish. What strange people, believers are!

We are given a few verses that show how irrational Allah is

6:35: If their spurning is hard on your mind, yet if you were able to seek a tunnel in the ground or a ladder to the skies and bring them a Sign – (what good?) If it were Allah’s Will, He could gather them together unto true guidance: so be not you amongst those who are swayed by ignorance (and impatience)!

6:39: Those who reject Our Signs are deaf and dumb – in the midst of darkness profound: whom Allah wills, He leaves to wander; whom He wills, He places on the way that is straight.

Why punish anyone for straying when it is Allah’s will they stray? Why oppose Allah?

In his price winning essay on the will, Schopenhauer wrote

Man can indeed do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wants

which I agree with. The theist however tells us that people can will what they want and tells us the Koran has a verse that supports this view

18:29 “Say: “The truth is from your Lord.” Let him who will, believe, and let him who will, reject (it).”

and it is unfathomable to me how a mere mortal would have designs against plans of an omni- being. I need help comprehending how

God lays out the paths for you but you take the path based on your intention.

one would know what path has been laid by the deity and then how with this information go ahead and defy it. It is like being told 2+2=4 and refusing to believe it.

How does this

If it was already predestined that Adam eats the fruit, then why is he reprimanded for it? Yes, he was predestined to eat the fruit. But it was his intention that first started it. He was reprimanded for that intention.

make any sense to any rational person? Had the fruit not been there, would Adam have wanted to eat it? Would he have imagined eating a non existent fruit? The theist’s attempt to free their god from culpability falls flat any time. This god would have stored this fruit in its pocket for all eternity but chose to plant it in the garden and then make Adam, Eve and the serpent aware of its presence.

To excuse Allah, she tells us

But from the start, just like how God had predestined Adam to sin, God had also predestined that Iblis would rebel, and would be an enemy to humanity. This is for several reasons – the main one being that God wants to test humanity (through Iblis) to see who is worthy to enter His paradise.

and one must ask to what end? Why would an omniscient god test man. It would have been far better not to create those it knew would stray unless we accept this god has sadistic tendencies.

The rest of the post continues to absurdities that I will not bother with here.

I will close with a quote from Schopenhauer

I can do what I will: I can, if I will, give everything I have to the poor and thus become poor myself—if I will! But I cannot will this, because the opposing motives have much too much power over me for me to be able to. On the other hand, if I had a different character, even to the extent that I were a saint, then I would be able to will it. But then I could not keep from willing it, and hence I would have to do so.

Advertisements

A question on punishment

I have expressed my thoughts about punishment, freewill and so on.

Here is a case of a man who the prosecutor seeks a jail-term for 26yrs for two crimes; carelessness and cowardice. Careless because he took the vessel so close to shore to perform a maneuver and cowardice for abandoning ship.

What are you feelings on this matter.

I know I will regret this

We have mentioned Cornell here before. He is my neighbour in the hood, I thought with knowing yours truly, his writing will become more sensible. It appears he is gone off the racks completely.

In this post he is writing about punishment and the part of god in the matrix. On this blog we have said we oppose to punishment and are in support of rehabilitation. Society has every right to protect itself. In this case, though the removal from society of offenders, we propose that they should not be stripped of their dignity. Revenge doesn’t make society better.

The question Cornell is asking

Then why do people have a problem with a God who punishes evil in the world? Why do people have a problem with a God who sends people to hell for their sins?

is one which misses the point entirely. It absolves god, whatever they are, from blame. Cornell must first demonstrate that a god exist and show how this god is not complacent in the commission of evil. And to ask  why we have a problem with a god who sends people to hell is inhuman, a parson devoid of feeling and capricious.What would god want to achieve when he has these people in hell?

We are not in agreement on this

One thing we can all agree on is that people do not have a problem with a God who punishes sin.

for no god has been shown to exist.

I don’t know who agrees with him on this

no one is saying that there shouldn’t be a hell.

Many humanists have written against the concept of hell. Maybe he should spend time out reading different authors. I don’t want hell to exist. Don’t misunderstand me, am not saying hell exists.

If the believer holds it that god created man, there is nothing man can do to beat the wishes of god. The believer will have to prove that the offender’s behaviour is not what god intended for him/her and then to show why they should be punished for mistakes that rightly belong at god’s doorstep.

In this other post, he has expressed sophistry as I have not seen in a while.

He argues

[…]Do these examples disqualify the Bible? Many people believe so. Yet what such arguments against the Bible reveal is the arguers’ ignorance of what the Bible is and what the Bible does. The Bible is not God’s Word because it contains novel (new and unique) ideas about God. In fact, the reverse is the case, all true ideas about God that exist outside the Bible only prove that God is the author and owner of all truth. It is the reason R.C. Sproul has popularized the phrase: “all truth is God’s truth.”

and with one stroke of Oogity Boogity he has secured the bible from any criticism. I wish this were the case for him but alas, no, reality is different from this. How do we know an idea is true about god? Is something true about god if it gets mentioned in the bible and by secular author? What about those writings that are in direct contradiction with the supposed word of god? Do they also express a truth about god? And what truth is this?

I don’t know what truth is. Jesus, if he existed had an opportunity to settle this matter before Pilate [John 18:38] but he didn’t. When Cornell writes

Truth is truth, wherever you find it

I can’t for the life of me say I know what he means.

He ends his post with the sophistry with which he begun

The availability of truth apart from the Bible is actually an argument for God, not against Him. It is proof of His sovereignty — that  God is God over all people and all things, not just the Jews and the Christians. It is proof that those who will never encounter Christianity will not be judged unfairly, because “what may be known about God is “plain” to them (Rom 1:19).

There is a lot more to say about this fallacious argument. I hope not one of his many thousands of followers believe these nonsense he is selling to them. Any reasonable person who has read the bible and read some science book will be able to notice the several contradictions between the bible and what we have found out about nature and at the same time this person shall have seen the internal contradictions in the bible itself. The question then that we must ask is which is truth when we have two contradictory stories in the bible about the same event?

Quotable quotes: Punishment

Those who will hold the balance between the benefits thus attributed to law and punishment and the degrading effect of the latter on humanity; those who will estimate the torrent of depravity poured abroad in human society by the informer, favored by the judge even, and paid for in clinking cash by governments, under the pretext of aiding to unmark crime; those who will go within prison walls and there see what human beings become when deprived of liberty, when subjected to the care of brutal keepers, to coarse, cruel words, to a thousand stinging piercing humiliations, will agree with us that the entire apparatus of prison and punishment is an abomination which ought to be brought to an end.

Peter Kropotkin

A travesty of justice: Was he railroaded?

Yours truly is not a lawyer, neither was he in court during the trial. It is the aim of this post to look at this particular case from what was reported in the media and offer a defense for the young man.

First the details of the case.

David was charged with violently robbing his father while armed with a revolver and a knife. He stole a wallet containing Sh1,000, an ATM card, Visa Card, Alien Identity Card, two medical cards, three supermarket smart cards and a mobile phone all valued at Sh157,000.

and the decision of the court

I have considered that he is a first offender but also the fact that the offence he is charged with carries only one mandatory sentence. I will be imposing an illegal sentence to deviate from what the law says and, therefore, order him to suffer death.

the testimony by the father

Mr Mulready Tett testified that on the fateful day, his son called him to the living room where he found him with two other men. He noticed that his son was troubled and requested that they go outside to have a private talk and when they went back in the house, he requested the two to leave.

and the son’s response

the young Tett said that he was a victim of circumstances, that he was hijacked by the robbers who asked him at gunpoint to take them to his parents’ home and had no alternative but to comply.

I don’t know about you, but this case smells bad from the word go especially listening to what the adopted mother had to say

He used to claim for his share of property. Who is he? He is not even my own son. I only took care of him and in any case, I could have given him some property.

I am not privy to how the adoption was arranged, how they are related but I think there is more than meets the eye in this case. For one the sentence of the court defies the laws of natural justice. What good does society gain by the death sentence? How does the attempted theft of 157K warrant a death sentence? Why did the court dismiss the plea by the son that he was a victim of circumstances?

I believe a person acts as he does and that environment, training and temperament all play apart in someone’s behaviour. It would be useful for us to know under what circumstances David was brought up. His story has not been told in the whole of this. We have on the contrary the story of a once powerful mother complaining to be aggrieved while she sheds crocodile tears.

Anyone who receives death threats can go to the police and file a complaint. She says

He has always kept threatening the family, I had to restructure my security detail, change my routes because of the consistent death threats I always get from people hired by him to come and kill me.

It would be interesting to know if she ever reported such incidences to the police? Were this people arrested and what became of their cases? How did she tell her son had hired them or did they report this to her? And if they could report to her, they could also tell the police, why didn’t they report to the police they had been hired to kill the lady? This, to me, simply makes no sense.

I think the magistrate erred in sentencing David to hang. I think justice was not served and I hope that he files an appeal and gets his sentence commuted or revoked altogether.  And am I opposed to death penalty.

                                                                                          

Tett son sentenced to death

The adopted child who would turn against his parents

Free will: A religious idea

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;

  1. The error of confusing cause and effect,
  2. The error of false causality,
  3. The error of imaginary causes, and lastly
  4. 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.

Of Mercy and Justice

Those good friends who have been reading this blog must have Caroline a while back. We meet with her here again on a pet subject of mine. As part of the larger series of response to christian apologists, we will have fun doing this, one to show where they are wrong and also to see how we can move forward in eliminating superstition and myth from the minds of the people. It is the only way I think society can move forward as one.

As a small change in my response to the apologists, I would first want them to define god coherently and show that a god so defined can exist and also that the god so defined need our worship. Barring this, I am convinced that apologists and theologians have chosen to willfully delude themselves and the general public. I also contend that they have to show the god they defined is the christian god or whatever religion they ascribe to.

Now that we are done with the basics, let us deal with the question at heart here. Our friend is talking about justice and punishment. I don’t think there is any justice, there is only revenge. We call it justice because we are ashamed of the word revenge while most times that is what people are seeking, in that respect I can’t support any fight for justice. Unless here we refer to cases like where one has grabbed a piece of your land and all you want is that piece to be returned and nothing more, in such an instance I would give a little neck room but not beyond.

I’ve been wrestling with atheists recently, philosophically, not physically. And as we’ve gone back and forth, the charge of God’s apparent capriciousness and/or callousness has been proposed as reason to question his goodness. A case in point is the biblical record of God “hardening “ Pharaoh’s heart. This is the Egyptian king who was ruthlessly oppressing the enslaved Israelites. And when God called Moses to be his instrument of redemption, he did say to him, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.” (Exodus 4:21)

Here before we discuss whether Pharaoh was ruthless, the first question that must be dealt with here is, were the Israelites spoils of war or were they led to Egypt by their supposed god? If it is the first, we need to examine the records to see whether there is any truth in it. And if as I believe, they were led to Egypt by their supposed god, he must be responsible fully for what happens to them while there. Blame can’t be transferred unless the theist also accepts that Pharaoh was god’s agent and is to that extent not guilty. In many posts, I have said what I think about miracles and I will repeat here that truth doesn’t require miracles. As long as a miracle is needed, I insist there is no truth involved.

Many ask, how then can God be just in bringing all the plagues on Pharaoh and the Egyptians if he so decreed that his heart would be set firmly against freeing the Israelites? It is a reasonable question, but I believe some investigating will disclose a satisfactory answer.

Let us look at the answer she proposes

Before I go on, I’d like to emphasize its reasonableness and say to my atheist friends [………..] that these difficult passages disquiet and trouble Christians as well. It is a sign of our sense of justice and concern for our fellow-man that you and we are disturbed by them. And that’s a good thing. The difference, as I see it, is that you stop there and write God off as either nonexistent or not worthy of worship, but we give him the benefit of the doubt, if you will, and pursue a greater understanding. Not because we don’t want to face the facts, but because we must, and the facts of his justice, mercy, love, and grace don’t jive with evil and cruelty.

Why for instance give god a benefit of doubt you are not ready to grant your fellow-man who you can see, who has feelings, he pleads for mercy? Is it a case where one wants to truly believe that the god she believes in is good despite evidence to the contrary? No we don’t stop there, we continue to examine whether the stories so told are credible and whether the god described can be called merciful and we find he falls short. We lack a belief in gods because we find no evidence to suppose one or many could exist. By saying your god is not what it is described to be, we are not saying it exists, no, we are showing that as described he can only be a fiend, capricious and an enemy of men.

In the same way, because I am convinced of God’s goodness, based on how he reveals himself in both the Old and New Testaments, the witness of Jesus Christ who is the “image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15), the fact that we his creatures are capable of great love, compassion, sacrifice, kindness, etc…I, at the very least, trust that there is a good explanation for the apparent dichotomy. And my faith can be strong without knowledge of that explanation. But because I believe God provides a greater understanding when we pursue it…I pursue it.

Friends, please help me here. Well maybe I read a wrong bible translation but how can someone defend that the god of the OT is good. He punishes his first mistake, sends them out of their residence, curses the earth they are supposed to plow, curses child-birth, drowns almost everything, shows favoritism, allows or commands the killing of several number of peeps for no reason other than that they worship a bigger god than him. This god tolerates slavery, promises to punish great-grandchildren for the sins of their fathers, punishes everyone except the persons responsible[take case of David, kills the baby instead of David]. Please someone help me here. In the NT we are sent this god sent himself to die for our sins, he tells us he was innocent. Which good god sets such an example? While on the story of this Jeebus, how long was his mission here?

Why do you need faith? Why must one continue to suspend reason. If something is true, we don’t need faith. Faith is only required to believe the impossible and credulous and as for me, I don’t want faith. I want to live, as Camus says, with what I know and only with that.

Let us listen to the dichotomy

So I’ve sought understanding of God’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, and though God’s ways are so much higher than ours and men have written long treatises on this issue because it is deep and complex, still I think I can confidently speak on one reality that addresses it and that should be helpful. And it is demonstrated in the convicted murderer scenario I opened with: A just punishment is still just even if there is a potential for mercy that is denied.

I have talked about punishment already. To say god’s ways are higher than ours, what does she mean? And then how is this important to us? If it is higher than ours it only follows that there is no point it becomes relevant to us. It can always remain high up there and as such can’t be used as a standard to measure things here, it will always be higher. There is nothing like just punishment, that statement qualifies to be called an oxymoron!

Pharaoh was an evil ruler who denied mercy to the Israelites and abused them as his slaves. He and all of Egypt worshiped false gods and the Pharaoh willingly received adulation from the Egyptians as having godlike status. They were deserving of God’s wrath. What’s more, God foreknew that Pharaoh would stubbornly refuse to release the Israelites “unless compelled by a mighty hand” (Exodus 3:19). His hardening of Pharaoh’s heart was part of God’s method of compulsion. It was retribution for his evil deeds borne of an evil heart, and the means of redemption for God’s people.

Please tell me, dear reader, where is it said Pharaoh was evil? Two where in the bible is the god of Abe described as the god for everyone? I want someone to show me where god revealed himself to Pharaoh saying he is his god and pharaoh dismissed him. The charge that pharaoh worshiped false god can’t be sustained and must be withdrawn. And you have no right to call someone’s god false. It is only false according to you and since no one has shown the one true god, all gods can equally be false, that is even if you could prove that yours exists. How can anyone say pharaoh and the whole of Egypt was deserving of this god’s wrath, a god they had no knowledge of? Is this not the height of cruelty and capriciousness!  It’s like a king asking for the arrest of a fellow he met and who didn’t know him then asking this guy be hanged! Tell me where the difference is between Caroline’s god and this king, and remember am patient 😀

Please tell me, is it remotely possible that, allowing this god to be both omnipotent and omniscient, he would resort to hardening pharaoh’s heart, perform some mundane tricks to get his people to go? But even before we get there, is it possible that he didn’t know by taking them to Egypt they would become slaves and thus send them elsewhere? People let us get serious! I know some of you want this god story to be true, but please just for a few moments everyday, apply reason!

So, God did not compel Pharaoh to resist him in opposition to what Pharaoh was inclined to do. In multiple passages in Exodus Pharaoh is said to have hardened his own heart. He simply executed righteous judgment on him and the Egyptians by ensuring his continued resistance resulting in the ten plagues.

So if pharaoh acted according to his own nature as Caroline implies here, why has god to punish him. It is like saying a blind man should be punished for using a white stick to find his way! My next question was everyone in Egypt a pharaoh? If the problem was between god and pharaoh, why involve everyone else? Could god not seek an address with pharaoh, why even send Moses? This sounds like the queen of England has a problem with Mr. Hollande, then she sends some ignorant farmer to go meet with the president, please friends, is this sensible?

One might object that obviously God knew Pharaoh would have relented a lot sooner or he wouldn’t have needed to harden his heart, and that would have spared Egypt a number of plagues…and that’s not fair. But I refer you again to our convicted Murderer B. Would we think it just, particularly if his victim was a loved one of ours, if upon his expressed remorse and resolve never to murder again as he stood ready to be sentenced, the judge let him go scot-free?

I have said enough about punishment already. The rest of this statement is ridiculous. Here we have a god behaving like Caroline would, why then call him god? He has the same attitudes just like we do?

But whence goeth justice in the case of Murderer A? He received mercy, which is the antithesis of justice, and every judge has the authority to dispense it. But though we are all entitled to justice, no one is entitled to mercy.

Do I need to say here I again that there is no justice and that we are all entitled to mercy. We can’t act against our nature, so all of us must be treated with mercy whether a god exists or not. Anyone who objects to this position please show me why!

But if God is so wonderful and loving, why doesn’t he have mercy on everyone? I think there are a lot of good answers to that, but there’s one that becomes obvious if we ask ourselves this: Why doesn’t any judge sentence every convicted criminal that stands before him to probation?

I think the obvious answer to this question is at the beginning of the post. There are no gods and in as much as we would want things to be different, they are just as they are.