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Is religion about to die out?

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Frank Merton

Mr. McDougall has presented himself as an expert on Einstein and on what Einstein believed about God.  I wonder if he would care to explain the simplest of Einstein's theories, the Special Theory of Relativity in a few self-written paragraphs.

http://atheism.about.com/od/einsteingodreligion/tp/Einstein-on-a-Personal-God.htm

Edited by Frank Merton
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Frank Merton
2 hours ago, Horta said:

Yes, there are many different understandings of what "free will" is to begin with and debates are often confused this way. The mind is certainly creative (that religion exists demonstrates this) and no one (usually) forces you to think a certain way. Yet in a different sense, not saying it has to be so, but something to ponder...

People are the result of billions of years of cosmic, chemical and biological evolution, where they inherit their genetic makeup from their parents, which gives them their own particular nervous system made of matter that works according to the principles of physics and chemistry, which also gives them their proclivities and predispositions, and they also arrive in an environment they have no say in which forms their early neural pathways. None of this of their own choosing. Free will so far?

People think they have freedom of choice (they certainly are free to choose), but the choice itself is probably the only possible one that was ever going to be made at that point, regardless of the illusion they could have made another. It has little to do with "free will", every step of this procedure is the result of cause and effect dictated by physics and chemistry, not some little homunculus living in people's heads. The little homunculus itself is an illusion generated in the brain, by mundane physical interactions.

People also don't make decisions the way they think they do. The brain is always interpreting stimuli and generating thoughts, decisions are made in unconscious areas of the brain before people are aware of them, then they wrongly think they have made a "conscious decision". Experiments are demonstrating this, no experiments have really demonstrated the opposite. At times the brain dispenses with the "conscious" part altogether, when necessary. When you lift something hot for example, and react before there is any conscious awareness of it, let alone decision.

So if people are formed by processes they have no control of, into an environment not of their choosing, with the brain that runs on physical processes they have no control of, and choices are formed unconsciously first...where is free will? How is a such physical system able to make choices that are not 100% dictated by physics, cause and effect? 

Not saying it can't be, but how?

We certainly think, and, importantly, act, as though we have free will.  Of course most of the time we don't -- we are programmed machines, as you mention, a lot of experiments have demonstrated that the subconscious seems to decide things before the "executive" is aware and when we take a step we don't even think about it, but something in our brain does.

I think part of the problem is the division neurologists traditionally make between the two, and I doubt if it really works that way.  The subconscious does the heavy routine work and then the conscious makes executive decision -- generally based on memos coming from below and not invented on its own (except maybe somebody like Trump who doesn't follow advice of his wiser and more experienced subordinates).  But that makes the conscious just an adjunct of the subconscious, so why would it have evolved?  Why didn't we stay automatons. both actually and how we think about it?

It seems to me there is an advantage to having an executive who can overrule the subconscious in some cases, so we don't become ants following a scent trail no matter where it leads us.  That free will would have a selective advantage, in other words.

As to mechanism, well, since we don't even know how sentience works, let alone how even the subconscious actually makes decisions, let alone how the conscious convinces us we exist, why do we expect to know what mechanism makes free will possible?  These are the "hard questions."

I am not inclined to introduce spirituality into the discussion, since I think that spoils the milk, but phenomena exist on the mental level for which we don't have answers. 

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Noteverythingisaconspiracy
8 hours ago, Alan McDougall said:

http://www.bethinking.org/god/did-einstein-believe-in-god

Einstein qouted the below

“Behind all the discernible concatenations, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force is my religion. To that extent, I am in point of fact, religious.”[8]

“Every scientist becomes convinced that the laws of nature manifest the existence of a spirit vastly superior to that of men.”[9]

“Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe – a spirit vastly superior to that of man.”[10]

“The divine reveals itself in the physical world.”[11]

“My God created laws… His universe is not ruled by wishful thinking but by immutable laws.”[12]

“I want to know how God created this world. I want to know his thoughts.”[13]

“What I am really interested in knowing is whether God could have created the world in a different way.”[14]

“This firm belief in a superior mind that reveals itself in the world of experience, represents my conception of God.”[15]

“My religiosity consists of a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit, …That superior reasoning power forms my idea of God.”

 

You can use quotes to prove anything if you take them out of context. Here are some proof that Hitler was a good christian:

We are a people of different faiths, but we are one. Which faith conquers the other is not the question; rather, the question is whether Christianity stands or falls.... We tolerate no one in our ranks who attacks the ideas of Christianity... in fact our movement is Christian. We are filled with a desire for Catholics and Protestants to discover one another in the deep distress of our own people.

-Adolf Hitler, in a speech in Passau, 27 October 1928, Bundesarchiv Berlin-Zehlendorf, [cited from Richard Steigmann-Gall's The Holy Reich]

In the Bible we find the text, 'That which is neither hot nor cold will I spew out of my mouth.' This utterance of the great Nazarene has kept its profound validity until the present day.

-Adolf Hitler, speech in Munich, 10 April 1923

My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before in the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.... When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom to-day this poor people is plundered and exploited.

-Adolf Hitler, in his speech in Munich on 12 April 1922

The National Socialist State professes its allegiance to positive Christianity. It will be its honest endeavour to protect both the great Christian Confessions in their rights, to secure them from interference with their doctrines (Lehren ), and in their duties to constitute a harmony with the views and the exigencies of the State of to-day.

-Adolf Hitler, on 26 June 1934, to Catholic bishops to assure them that he would take action against the new pagan propaganda

Just a few examples, there are many more here: http://www.nobeliefs.com/speeches.htm

PS: I am not saying that Hitler did what he did because of chritianity, I am merely trying to show how easy it is to misuse quotes when they are taken out of context !

Edited by Noteverythingisaconspiracy
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aquatus1
12 hours ago, XenoFish said:

Why not just lose faith in everything?

Because religion isn't everything. 

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

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Stubbly_Dooright

Xeno

12 hours ago, Frank Merton said:

Just lose faith in religion.

Why not just lose faith in everything?

I've been there. Not something I would advise. :no: 

Horta: 

Yes, there are many different understandings of what "free will" is to begin with and debates are often confused this way. The mind is certainly creative (that religion exists demonstrates this) and no one (usually) forces you to think a certain way. Yet in a different sense, not saying it has to be so, but something to ponder...

Trust me, I have met a few who do actually feel I should think a certain way. Not just behave, but think. I often make jokes about saying I'm not so fine, after people asking me how I am ( as a greeting ) and most of them laugh and a lot even tell me that I should be appreciative in my enjoying my misery. ;)  :tu:  

But then a few, like when I did that very funny bit to a lady who ended up giving me a Babtist business card, she got all frown like and didn't like it. It's not like I gave her bad service. I was able to help her get what she wanted, complete with a smile on my face. But she did not like it that I loved my misery. I had to think happy, even when I am honestly not feeling it. ( in which that fakeness or forcing happiness is very very dangerous in my observations ) That's what I'm talking about. Controlling others, right down to the thoughts, is very intrusive and wrong. 

 

People are the result of billions of years of cosmic, chemical and biological evolution, where they inherit their genetic makeup from their parents, which gives them their own particular nervous system made of matter that works according to the principles of physics and chemistry, which also gives them their proclivities and predispositions, and they also arrive in an environment they have no say in which forms their early neural pathways. None of this of their own choosing. Free will so far?

People think they have freedom of choice (they certainly are free to choose), but the choice itself is probably the only possible one that was ever going to be made at that point, regardless of the illusion they could have made another. It has little to do with "free will", every step of this procedure is the result of cause and effect dictated by physics and chemistry, not some little homunculus living in people's heads. The little homunculus itself is an illusion generated in the brain, by mundane physical interactions.

People also don't make decisions the way they think they do. The brain is always interpreting stimuli and generating thoughts, decisions are made in unconscious areas of the brain before people are aware of them, then they wrongly think they have made a "conscious decision". Experiments are demonstrating this, no experiments have really demonstrated the opposite. At times the brain dispenses with the "conscious" part altogether, when necessary. When you lift something hot for example, and react before there is any conscious awareness of it, let alone decision.

So if people are formed by processes they have no control of, into an environment not of their choosing, with the brain that runs on physical processes they have no control of, and choices are formed unconsciously first...where is free will? How is a such physical system able to make choices that are not 100% dictated by physics, cause and effect? 

Not saying it can't be, but how?

OH, I don't disagree with you here. I feel that is the case. I just still feel, that we are capable of the free will in how we control our lives, even to the tiny degree. In which, going back to that lady customer, she is someone who has no right to comment on how others think!

 

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Frank Merton

Warning: what follows is personal experience and therefore not probative:

I would imagine I have experimented with free will over a thousand times, both while meditating and otherwise, and think it really exists, but is generally neglected unless there is mindful (paying attention to what our conscious mind is up to)effort.

A simple thing like ordering your big toe to move provides an example.  You can sit and think, "I want my big toe to move," and after a few moments it does.  More complicated, you can think, "Sometime in the next ten seconds I want my big toe to move." This is more problematic -- you are not exactly deciding when, but just "soon." Sure enough, soon enough it moves, but in this case without a conscious thought -- more like a general directive.

Is the first case free will?  Maybe the subconscious has already decided to move and sends the thought to the conscious as it is moving it.  Certainly, to move, the particular commands to the muscles involved do not involve anything at the conscious level (some claim the ability to actually do that, but I am skeptical).

It may be that we make too much of a demand on our ability to reason when we argue free will, since we seem to insist on proof, while for most behavioral matters just good evidence is enough to be persuasive.  It strikes me that those who absolutely insist on a completely mechanical, reductionist, mind quite miss the point and demand something that is not and never will be available -- proof.

At the same time, the idea of free will does contradict scientific notions about how things work in the universe and does seem to demand the introduction of "something" beyond the physical.  But maybe not -- maybe we just haven't thought it through completely and must wait for the necessary genius to come along with the appropriate insights.

In the meantime, I treat it like other things that are possible but that we cannot prove, such as that an external world exists (solipsism is wrong), that truth is unitary, that properly proved mathematics is valid, that the rules of logic apply universally.  These are things (axioms I suppose) that at the moment I have to take for granted.

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Mr Walker
17 hours ago, Horta said:

Yes, there are many different understandings of what "free will" is to begin with and debates are often confused this way. The mind is certainly creative (that religion exists demonstrates this) and no one (usually) forces you to think a certain way. Yet in a different sense, not saying it has to be so, but something to ponder...

People are the result of billions of years of cosmic, chemical and biological evolution, where they inherit their genetic makeup from their parents, which gives them their own particular nervous system made of matter that works according to the principles of physics and chemistry, which also gives them their proclivities and predispositions, and they also arrive in an environment they have no say in which forms their early neural pathways. None of this of their own choosing. Free will so far?

People think they have freedom of choice (they certainly are free to choose), but the choice itself is probably the only possible one that was ever going to be made at that point, regardless of the illusion they could have made another. It has little to do with "free will", every step of this procedure is the result of cause and effect dictated by physics and chemistry, not some little homunculus living in people's heads. The little homunculus itself is an illusion generated in the brain, by mundane physical interactions.

People also don't make decisions the way they think they do. The brain is always interpreting stimuli and generating thoughts, decisions are made in unconscious areas of the brain before people are aware of them, then they wrongly think they have made a "conscious decision". Experiments are demonstrating this, no experiments have really demonstrated the opposite. At times the brain dispenses with the "conscious" part altogether, when necessary. When you lift something hot for example, and react before there is any conscious awareness of it, let alone decision.

So if people are formed by processes they have no control of, into an environment not of their choosing, with the brain that runs on physical processes they have no control of, and choices are formed unconsciously first...where is free will? How is a such physical system able to make choices that are not 100% dictated by physics, cause and effect? 

Not saying it can't be, but how?

Free will is two things. The abilty to freely,and without physical constraint, form an intent of action.  Second the ability to commence such action without any physical constraint to preventing one doing so  

The nature of self aware consciousness allows a human being to weigh decisions, considering consequence, data, belief, knowledge, etc., BUT none of those things constrains, physically prevents, or forces a certain decision or action  There are ALWAYS many alternative potential actions.

 So a human being is free to create any thought or intent within i t's mind without any physical barrier to prevent it doing so, and able to act on any intent . Of course there are natural consequences  to any action but because these come after action they cannot physically prevent or constrain action   And of course some things might be impossible but there is nothing preventing a human from attempting them..

There is no such thing as predestination,  no human action is  inextricably linked to any previous action and there is no one set future. Even the past was not set until it became the past So a human being can shape their future, and their world, via conscious free thought and deliberate free action.

Free will only applies to things we can control, like our thoughts and our actions  It does not and cannot be applied to things like our evolutionary past, or life on other planets,  of which we have no knowledge or the actions of others in our lives

First one must understand and define the mature of will and only then  can one examine if it can be applied freely or not  Choices are NOT formed unconsciously first, that is  a physical impossibility given our central nervous system, however we MAY make decisions subconsciously and very quickly, before  we apply rational consideration using linear  vocalised thoughts. Even so the subconscious is amenable to our will and thus even our subconscious actions  are constructed via our will. Our subconscious thoughts cannot  oppose our will as they form a part of it. One's conscious mind can be trained to access and to recognise and override the subconscious drivers of fear anger  etc.   Indeed, for a modern human this is an essential survival abilty as we cannot be succesful in a modern environment if our responses are controlled by subconscious fears or other drivers.  . 

Edited by Mr Walker

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Mr Walker
On 21/07/2016 at 1:00 AM, aquatus1 said:

Multiple genders have always existed.  Transgenders have always existed.  Homosexuality has always existed.  That you only found out about it just now won't change that.  The world has kept moving forwards regardless, and in many, many ways, it is much, much better than in used to be, now that morality is more concerned with "live and let live", as opposed to "we will tell you how to live".

The only thing you have lost is the ability to publicly condemn these things without fear of opposition.  But frankly, that was never really your right to begin with.  It was nothing more than a privilege claimed through brutality.

Everyone has a right to criticise, and even condemn, practices and beliefs which they find to be harmful or offensive.

 As society becomes more diverse, there is no longer one mainstream view on any matter  That is why opposition to some views and beliefs becomes more common. Homosexuality has been both condemned and praised by cultures and individuals in many cultures across millennia. 

   Logic, evidences etc will ultimately show who is correct on any issue; and what is considered correct or right will change as a cultures' needs, socio-economic realities, and values alter.

 I am a lot more worried about the dangers of uncontrolled migration across the globe than any sexual practices, or religious beliefs.  For example.  If i criticise our countries open and multicultural approach to migration.  I am condemned as racist and YET  with different cultures, come practices and beliefs which i think can be very dangerous, not only to individuals but to my society. ATM free debate on such issues is being prevented by fear and punishment of those who dare to speak up.  (Commentators lose their jobs,vitriolic attacks are organised by groups against any critics in social media etc)

if live and let live incidentally allows the development of groups or individuals whose agendas are inimical to my own freedoms and safety, or that of my society, then  live and let live is not acceptable . 

If allowing 10000 mild mannered law abiding  people into my country as migrants, also allows in 100 potential suicide bombers, that is not acceptable either. At the moment the greatest threat to freedoms in the west are not the few fanatics in a society but the laws designed to prevent them from harming us.  The second greatest threat are the laws designed to stop debate and critics of social policy on these issues.

Neither i nor anyone i know is ever likely to be directly harmed by any terrorist,  but all of us are harmed,  and restricted in our daily lives, by the rules and regulations restricting our freedoms which are enacted to deal with those few  individuals.

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XenoFish

I've been thinking about the freewill issue a bit today. I think we do have it to a point and that point is habit. When a thought or action becomes so reinforced that it's automatic. 

I could be wrong in my think, wouldn't be the first time. If so please correct me and provide links for further reading.

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Frank Merton
24 minutes ago, XenoFish said:

I've been thinking about the freewill issue a bit today. I think we do have it to a point and that point is habit. When a thought or action becomes so reinforced that it's automatic. 

I could be wrong in my think, wouldn't be the first time. If so please correct me and provide links for further reading.

A lot of things are like that.  When you first learn to ride a bicycle, you have to pay attention with your conscious mind, but soon you get where the balancing and so on are automatic and you don't need to any more.  Much the same apples to learning another language as an adult.  When I'm speaking English I long ago stopped thinking in Vietnamese (actually we don't actually "think" in any language -- first we think, then we put it into words and then we say them, and it all happens automatically.  Once upon a time I had to put my thoughts first into Vietnamese and then translate.  I still have to do that if I'm trying to speak French or Khmer or Cantonese, mainly because of lack of practice and the fact that Khmer is new to me.

I don't think this has much to do with the free will question.  Most of what we do is automatic and handled by lower levels of the nervous system.  That is beside the point -- our moral and some other decisions have to be made by reasoning out what is right, although I will admit most people just assume whatever they do is right and that they are good people, even though they do immense evil in the world.  Sometimes what is right and what is wrong is not possible to see, as the ethical question is too subtle and the consequences too unpredictable.  That is where free will becomes possible.

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Horta
On 7/22/2016 at 10:46 AM, Frank Merton said:

Warning: what follows is personal experience and therefore not probative:

I would imagine I have experimented with free will over a thousand times, both while meditating and otherwise, and think it really exists, but is generally neglected unless there is mindful (paying attention to what our conscious mind is up to)effort.

A simple thing like ordering your big toe to move provides an example.  You can sit and think, "I want my big toe to move," and after a few moments it does.  More complicated, you can think, "Sometime in the next ten seconds I want my big toe to move." This is more problematic -- you are not exactly deciding when, but just "soon." Sure enough, soon enough it moves, but in this case without a conscious thought -- more like a general directive.

Is the first case free will?  Maybe the subconscious has already decided to move and sends the thought to the conscious as it is moving it.  Certainly, to move, the particular commands to the muscles involved do not involve anything at the conscious level (some claim the ability to actually do that, but I am skeptical).

This seems useful, but still only broaches the question superficially. How would either example be freely willed? Where did the initial underlying thoughts come from in the first place and how? Did you consciously decide to put them into your brain? If consciousness and all thought are result of brain activity in the first place, then how? When did that happen and in what way?

If the apparatus we used is not of our choosing, and the processes it runs on adhere to mechanistic principles that we cannot change..?

Quote

 

It may be that we make too much of a demand on our ability to reason when we argue free will, since we seem to insist on proof, while for most behavioral matters just good evidence is enough to be persuasive.  It strikes me that those who absolutely insist on a completely mechanical, reductionist, mind quite miss the point and demand something that is not and never will be available -- proof.

The word "proof" has no real place in science. It is a subjective term that means different things to different people. There is quite a bit of logic and supporting evidence that people are exactly that, sophisticated biological robots. There doesn't seem to be much available to support the opposite notion, apart from a "feeling" that is so, one that itself incongruent with our knowledge of how nature works so far.

It seems an unavoidable (at least quite observable) fact that "consciousness" itself as well as all thought and emotions are the result of completely mechanistic processes. The brain (along with the nervous system), the organ that generates the effect of consciousness and where decisions and thoughts occur, is a mechanistic system. It isn't magic. What point would they be missing?

One of the greatest obstacles to understanding consciousness itself seems to be long held, but unsupported notions that humans have something special that separates them from other creatures of nature. Leading to nonsense such as a "soul"and (god given lol) free will. This seems very unlikely. The only thing likely to separate humans this way is a different evolutionary path and a more complex nervous system.

Quote

At the same time, the idea of free will does contradict scientific notions about how things work in the universe and does seem to demand the introduction of "something" beyond the physical.  But maybe not -- maybe we just haven't thought it through completely and must wait for the necessary genius to come along with the appropriate insights.

In the meantime, I treat it like other things that are possible but that we cannot prove, such as that an external world exists (solipsism is wrong), that truth is unitary, that properly proved mathematics is valid, that the rules of logic apply universally.  These are things (axioms I suppose) that at the moment I have to take for granted.

Again proof isn't relavent, only evidence. Perhaps "consciousness" is simply a result of complexity, an epiphenomena? This seems consistent with observation, particularly when we look at the animal kingdom.  Those with more complicated nervous systems all seem obviously "conscious" and appear to have some degree of volition and choice available. Volition itself and being confronted with choice doesn't necessarily amount to free will. We already have machines that can learn and that make choices constantly. The difference being that they are not aware (that we know of). Creatures in the jungle are rarely thought to act out of free will, they are generally thought to be more instinctive. Yet the only real difference between them and humans is complexity/processing power. Humans have a highly developed intellect as a result, and more ability to learn (in a Pavlovian way) which allows a chance to analyse things and hence we have a greater degree of possible outcomes.

Yet we are slaves to the same instincts, only we can reflect and write poetry about it.

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Horta
On 7/22/2016 at 11:43 AM, Mr Walker said:

Free will is two things. The abilty to freely,and without physical constraint, form an intent of action.  Second the ability to commence such action without any physical constraint to preventing one doing so  

Who says?

Quote

The nature of self aware consciousness allows a human being to weigh decisions, considering consequence, data, belief, knowledge, etc., BUT none of those things constrains, physically prevents, or forces a certain decision or action  There are ALWAYS many alternative potential actions.

 So a human being is free to create any thought or intent within i t's mind without any physical barrier to prevent it doing so, and able to act on any intent . Of course there are natural consequences  to any action but because these come after action they cannot physically prevent or constrain action   And of course some things might be impossible but there is nothing preventing a human from attempting them..

There is no such thing as predestination,  no human action is  inextricably linked to any previous action and there is no one set future. Even the past was not set until it became the past So a human being can shape their future, and their world, via conscious free thought and deliberate free action.

Free will only applies to things we can control, like our thoughts and our actions  It does not and cannot be applied to things like our evolutionary past, or life on other planets,  of which we have no knowledge or the actions of others in our lives

First one must understand and define the mature of will and only then  can one examine if it can be applied freely or not  Choices are NOT formed unconsciously first, that is  a physical impossibility given our central nervous system, however we MAY make decisions subconsciously and very quickly, before  we apply rational consideration using linear  vocalised thoughts. Even so the subconscious is amenable to our will and thus even our subconscious actions  are constructed via our will. Our subconscious thoughts cannot  oppose our will as they form a part of it. One's conscious mind can be trained to access and to recognise and override the subconscious drivers of fear anger  etc.   Indeed, for a modern human this is an essential survival abilty as we cannot be succesful in a modern environment if our responses are controlled by subconscious fears or other drivers.  . 

Quite facile and long winded as expected. 

It seems that "consciousness" is not a thing, it is an effect. An effect of brain function. When you can demonstrate that it isn't, or that you can somehow cause or implant thoughts (that aren't reliant on previous causes beyond your control) into your brain initially, or that when confronted with a choice, that you could have chosen differently...please do. That would be more convincing.

How's god by the way?

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Horta
On 7/22/2016 at 0:40 PM, XenoFish said:

I've been thinking about the freewill issue a bit today. I think we do have it to a point and that point is habit. When a thought or action becomes so reinforced that it's automatic. 

I could be wrong in my think, wouldn't be the first time. If so please correct me and provide links for further reading.

There is a mile of literature on the subject Xeno. "Correcting you" might be a bit of an exaggeration, as it's unlikely anyone really knows how this all works as yet. We can only put up an opionion and supply what we might find persuasive or not. As well as the original Libet experiment and refinements of it since (that all seem to indicate an unconscious basis for conscious thought), there is lesser known works, such as that of DelGado. This scientist was able to cause involuntary emotions, thoughts and even physical movements from implants/ electrical stimulation of certain areas of the brain. What is interesting is that despite knowing of the experiment, some patients were sure they had thoughts of moving and made the decision to move completely of their own volition, even giving reasons why (looking for their slippers and so on).

Somehow people think they have to begin acting like unfeeling robots if they give up on the idea (of free will). It' isn't so, they don't have to change anything lol. Here's a good article with an opinion of a biologist and some insights into why being open to this this might in fact make us a better and more compassionate society.

There are many other experiments that don't specifically look at free will, but make you wonder. The Milgram experiments. The Refinements of the Asch conformity experiments using fMRI for instance. It was long thought that people lied in this simple experiment, because of peer pressure to conform. It now looks like the brain in fact alters it's perception of observed reality in order under pressure to conform.

Everything we can ever experience happens in our brain. We can never truly feel, taste, hear or see anything. We only ever get the brain's interpretation of these things based on various stimuli. If it tells us that aliens abduct us, bigfoot is real , or that god regularly arrives to shoot the breeze with us...it will seem real. The same neural processes can be at work whether it "real", or a fantasy.

Fascinating subject.

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Davros of Skaro

Sometimes in bed half awake/sleep a thought will make a part of my body move. For example I listened to a car commercial when it mentioned it's manual transmission. I thought about shifting, and my arm by it's self flung out, then lazily shifted a phantom shifter knob. 

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DieChecker
On 7/21/2016 at 2:32 AM, Frank Merton said:

It is a long established Christian teaching that it is acceptable to lie about history and about who you really are in order to win souls.

I've never heard that before. But I don't claim to know all teachings of all Christian sects. :devil:

Edited by DieChecker
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DieChecker
On 7/20/2016 at 9:58 PM, Frank Merton said:

Faith is not a virtue but a vice.  It involves believing in things when there is not enough evidence to believe in it.  It is the excuse people who want to believe certain things that are not supportable rationally or scientifically use to continue (without intellectual honesty and with a great deal of intellectual laziness) rely on. 

I'd agree to a point, but then we all follow several vices. Fast food, alcohol, smoking, sexual desires... Humans might even need to have some vices to be psychologically healthy.

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eight bits

DC

Quote

I've never heard that before. But I don't claim to know all teachings of all Christian sects.

The other poster may be spinfully referring to a famous characterization of the late ancient Christian writer Eusebius by the Eighteenth Century historian Edward Gibbon (The History of the Decine and Fall of the Roman Empire).

Eusebius isn't especially reliable, but did not espouse the views mentioned by the poster, which are similar to Gibbon's accusation. In recent years, Gibbon's accusation against Eusebius is often presented as a quotation from Eusebius.

That's ironic, if you think about it.

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Frank Merton
4 hours ago, DieChecker said:

I'd agree to a point, but then we all follow several vices. Fast food, alcohol, smoking, sexual desires... Humans might even need to have some vices to be psychologically healthy.

No, one can be psychologically healthy without any of those vices.  I know.

Let me edit that to say I too have sexual desires, but abstain.

Edited by Frank Merton
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XenoFish

Maybe free will is just our ability to choose, yes/no, right/wrong. Options A, B, or C. That there is also automatic choices based on habitual actions/thinking or even feeling. We can choose to go to work or stay home, we just have to weigh those options. In any case to 'strength the will' we must fight against previous action patterns (habits).

I like to think of our mind as a computer. For me sigil magick is like installing a subprogram that will run in the background. Depending on the intention behind the sigil, will depend on the alteration of one's current mindset. 

 

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Mr Walker
8 hours ago, Horta said:

Who says?

Quite facile and long winded as expected. 

It seems that "consciousness" is not a thing, it is an effect. An effect of brain function. When you can demonstrate that it isn't, or that you can somehow cause or implant thoughts (that aren't reliant on previous causes beyond your control) into your brain initially, or that when confronted with a choice, that you could have chosen differently...please do. That would be more convincing.

How's god by the way?

The definition of free (as in unimpeded) and the definition of will ( ie the abilty to consciously form an intent and then act on it ) say so.

 Many of the posts here haven't been talking about free will at all.

Where things occur outside the sphere of human will, then we cannot have free will ie free will won't prevent us being hit by an avalanche, but free will can cause us not to travel in dangerous conditions if that  is what we want.  

The nature of human consciousness is critical in understanding this issue   We can ALL use imagination, extrapolation, logic  creativity to do just what you  seem to think we cannot do.  Every human action is in some degree the consequence of a conscious choice. I can even chose to stop breathing if i wish. But again will is a distinct and limited quality of the mind.

There is no scientific evidence, at all, of ANY material or physical force/ power or biological function inside a human mind which can prevent us forming any thought we want to form, OR more significantly  from commencing to act in any way our mind can conceive of acting   Then there is our subconscious mind which we can learn to access and control This operates on a symbolic rather than linguistic level, making all sorts of visual and other links, attachments and understandings,  so  that we can arrive at incredible leaps of understanding, without conscious, language -based linear  logic and deduction. 

Human consciousness is not programmed, or dependent on the biological  neurology of the brain   It is more like an artificial/machine consciousness which begins to transcend its programming, and its physical frame work.  Modern experts have a growing understanding of this "I'  inside our mind, and how it operates . Any human can construct thoughts ideas and concepts which have no reliance on previous knowledge or understanding. It is called the abilty to imagine and is a consequence of our self aware consciousness, particularly  a consequence  or abilty deriving from   both visual and linguistic,  abstract and symbolic thinking. .  It allows us to construct an imagined future, and then  create or shape our world so that that future comes into existence.  "The dice man" by luke rhinehart is a novel which explores the possibility and consequences of random selection in choosing every pathway and branch through life but in real life we do this all the time, choosing one of many paths which are all equally possible, and creating a material thread in the  tapestry of our existence Until we act all other threads are equally possible.  Only AFTER we act does the tapestry of our life take solid shape.  Thus our will constructs and designs our tapestry via our conscious mind. 

In my life there are almost no factors beyond my control, although some accidents do happen, but logic, experience, extrapolation, and an understanding of consequence allow us to have  a very strong control over our lives. Through visualisation of action/consequence and planning, using prior knowledge and experience, we can shape, not only the person we are, but the life we have.

God is good :) 

Ps it depends how you define thing, but consciousness is definitely a concrete artefact.  It can be measured using machines and qualified and quantified. However it is the NATURE of self aawre consciousness at human level, its dependence on language, abstract and symbolic thought, etc., and the abilities it confers,on human beings  which are not found anywhere else that we know of,  which is most important.

Our mind allows us to be totally self aware of our own inner self, but also to understand the intrinsic links between that  self and other entities, as well as between self and environment.Hence we understand things like dependency symbiotic relationships etc.  This comes from a combination of many lesser qualities such as an understanding of linear time, a quite deep understanding of the nature of life and death and the differences between those states, and hence the nature of consequence.

 Humans have the abilty to construct empathetic thoughts and thus to consider the hurts of others as like our own  We KNOW how others will react to hurt or pleasure. We thus develop psychological feedback loops which give us conscience and a sense of what is right and wrong.  

Edited by Mr Walker

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Mr Walker
6 hours ago, Horta said:

There is a mile of literature on the subject Xeno. "Correcting you" might be a bit of an exaggeration, as it's unlikely anyone really knows how this all works as yet. We can only put up an opionion and supply what we might find persuasive or not. As well as the original Libet experiment and refinements of it since (that all seem to indicate an unconscious basis for conscious thought), there is lesser known works, such as that of DelGado. This scientist was able to cause involuntary emotions, thoughts and even physical movements from implants/ electrical stimulation of certain areas of the brain. What is interesting is that despite knowing of the experiment, some patients were sure they had thoughts of moving and made the decision to move completely of their own volition, even giving reasons why (looking for their slippers and so on).

Somehow people think they have to begin acting like unfeeling robots if they give up on the idea (of free will). It' isn't so, they don't have to change anything lol. Here's a good article with an opinion of a biologist and some insights into why being open to this this might in fact make us a better and more compassionate society.

There are many other experiments that don't specifically look at free will, but make you wonder. The Milgram experiments. The Refinements of the Asch conformity experiments using fMRI for instance. It was long thought that people lied in this simple experiment, because of peer pressure to conform. It now looks like the brain in fact alters it's perception of observed reality in order under pressure to conform.

Everything we can ever experience happens in our brain. We can never truly feel, taste, hear or see anything. We only ever get the brain's interpretation of these things based on various stimuli. If it tells us that aliens abduct us, bigfoot is real , or that god regularly arrives to shoot the breeze with us...it will seem real. The same neural processes can be at work whether it "real", or a fantasy.

Fascinating subject.

It is not that simple  Our sensory receptors provide data to  our brain, and although 10 men might perceive the same data differently,  based on prior experience or conditioning, the data IS  consistent and is not altered by individual perception.

Our brain makes sens of that data. Unlike other animals it does this with deliberate self awre intent   Our minds are conditioned by past experience, but can also break free quite easily from such conditioning once we are awre of it  ( a year or so of transactional analysis back inthe 70s showed me this quite clearly) . it is relatively easy to alter many elements of self  so that we can alter our perception of external stimuli. There is  a universal and singular concrete reality which our body's feel and our minds experience then  and there is non material reality whic exists only in the mind and is singular and subjective

 However it is easy and simple to perceive,know, and understand which is which, UNLESS one is damaged in some way.  just as colour blindness can physically preclude the abilty to see colours (which are quite real)  some people lack the abilty and skill to be able to accurately test reality Such people are very rare however. It is not true to state that the same neural processes construct both our inner and outer realities  Our mind has skills such as the use of contextual understanding,  logic,  prior experience etc., which allows an additional neurological function to separate out physical reality from the inner reality of the mind   This is inarguable as we all use it every day to know what is real and what is imagination, or day dream or even a night dream.  

What is true is that memories, once stored, are of an identical nature/quality be they memories of a dream or a real event BUT again, contextual memory and logic enables us to differentiate a dream from a real experience, even decades after we experienced both. 

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Horta
5 hours ago, Mr Walker said:

The definition of free (as in unimpeded) and the definition of will ( ie the abilty to consciously form an intent and then act on it ) say so.

 Many of the posts here haven't been talking about free will at all.

Where things occur outside the sphere of human will, then we cannot have free will ie free will won't prevent us being hit by an avalanche, but free will can cause us not to travel in dangerous conditions if that  is what we want.  

The nature of human consciousness is critical in understanding this issue   We can ALL use imagination, extrapolation, logic  creativity to do just what you  seem to think we cannot do.  Every human action is in some degree the consequence of a conscious choice. I can even chose to stop breathing if i wish. But again will is a distinct and limited quality of the mind.

There is no scientific evidence, at all, of ANY material or physical force/ power or biological function inside a human mind which can prevent us forming any thought we want to form, OR more significantly  from commencing to act in any way our mind can conceive of acting   Then there is our subconscious mind which we can learn to access and control This operates on a symbolic rather than linguistic level, making all sorts of visual and other links, attachments and understandings,  so  that we can arrive at incredible leaps of understanding, without conscious, language -based linear  logic and deduction. 

Human consciousness is not programmed, or dependent on the biological  neurology of the brain   It is more like an artificial/machine consciousness which begins to transcend its programming, and its physical frame work.  Modern experts have a growing understanding of this "I'  inside our mind, and how it operates . Any human can construct thoughts ideas and concepts which have no reliance on previous knowledge or understanding. It is called the abilty to imagine and is a consequence of our self aware consciousness, particularly  a consequence  or abilty deriving from   both visual and linguistic,  abstract and symbolic thinking. .  It allows us to construct an imagined future, and then  create or shape our world so that that future comes into existence.  "The dice man" by luke rhinehart is a novel which explores the possibility and consequences of random selection in choosing every pathway and branch through life but in real life we do this all the time, choosing one of many paths which are all equally possible, and creating a material thread in the  tapestry of our existence Until we act all other threads are equally possible.  Only AFTER we act does the tapestry of our life take solid shape.  Thus our will constructs and designs our tapestry via our conscious mind. 

In my life there are almost no factors beyond my control, although some accidents do happen, but logic, experience, extrapolation, and an understanding of consequence allow us to have  a very strong control over our lives. Through visualisation of action/consequence and planning, using prior knowledge and experience, we can shape, not only the person we are, but the life we have.

Not very convincing. Lots of empty claims once again, but in the end, who really knows?

It might seem like you have the ability to make choices, but look further for long enough, and an illusion might be apparent. The choice you make is the only one possible for you to make at that point. Thoughts aren't made by consciousness, they can appear consciously, but from somewhere else, from some other process. Experiments do show this. As to free will...

The concept is irreconcilable with logic.

It is irreconcilable with a naturalistic view of the world/universe.

It is unsupported by experimental evidence (which seems to imply the opposite).

It might be worth considering the possibility that we are no more than another species of apes, only with a developed intellect.

 

Quote

God is good :) 

Next time, get his autograph!

 

Quote

Ps it depends how you define thing, but consciousness is definitely a concrete artefact.  It can be measured using machines and qualified and quantified. However it is the NATURE of self aawre consciousness at human level, its dependence on language, abstract and symbolic thought, etc., and the abilities it confers,on human beings  which are not found anywhere else that we know of,  which is most important.

Our mind allows us to be totally self aware of our own inner self, but also to understand the intrinsic links between that  self and other entities, as well as between self and environment.Hence we understand things like dependency symbiotic relationships etc.  This comes from a combination of many lesser qualities such as an understanding of linear time, a quite deep understanding of the nature of life and death and the differences between those states, and hence the nature of consequence.

 Humans have the abilty to construct empathetic thoughts and thus to consider the hurts of others as like our own  We KNOW how others will react to hurt or pleasure. We thus develop psychological feedback loops which give us conscience and a sense of what is right and wrong.  

As to the bolded/underlined, how is this done? Do they take it out and weigh it, then put it back? Use a tape measure? Generally it would involve, at some stage, measuring brain activity. Wouldn't that in itself tell you something?

Your post seems to have a rather pie in the sky, idealistic view of humanity. Is there another one somewhere lol? At any rate, intelligence doesn't confer free will and many people who've had a pet will see many of those qualities in them. Dogs, cats and even horses and the like can be beautiful, intelligent and noble creatures in their own way. They are obviously conscious, make decisions and considerations and are quite capable of communication, love, devotion and even selflessness and altruism. No doubt puss, adorable little thing that it is, would see humans not so much as "the bringer of meals" but as "the meal itself" were it as big as it's cousins, but we won't hold that against it. That's nature. We might have more intelligence in certain ways, but about the same free will underneath it all (none, most likely).

 

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Elsupremo

If you were the creator of anything such as man, would you want your creature to know you exist. If so, why not make it perfectly clear that you really exist? Who among you can claim that God has made it perfectly clear that he/her/It exists. Either God does not have the ability to make it perfectly clear or God is playing a game. Since Gods will is supposed to be dominate how can man have a free will. It will always be imprisoned to Gods greater will. Proverbs 20:24 states that the goings of a man is controlled by The Lord, how therefore can he understand his own self.

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Habitat
3 minutes ago, Elsupremo said:

If you were the creator of anything such as man, would you want your creature to know you exist. If so, why not make it perfectly clear that you really exist? Who among you can claim that God has made it perfectly clear that he/her/It exists. Either God does not have the ability to make it perfectly clear or God is playing a game. Since Gods will is supposed to be dominate how can man have a free will. It will always be imprisoned to Gods greater will. Proverbs 20:24 states that the goings of a man is controlled by The Lord, how therefore can he understand his own self.

what demonstration would convince people, in your opinion ?

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Elsupremo

Generally in the Bible God reveals himself through dreams and visions. I experienced God while tripping on LSD in the 70s. For me, in that revelation God showed itself to be the Sun. Yes the sun in the sky.

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