BEEP! BEEP! IT'S ME.

"Begin at the beginning,and go on till you come to the end: then stop." (Lewis Carroll, 1832-1896)

Alice came to a fork in the road. "Which road do I take?" she asked."Where do you want to go?" responded the Cheshire cat."I don't know," Alice answered."Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."

"So long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation. "Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."

"All right," said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone. "Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin," thought Alice; "but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!"

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I am diagonally parked in a parallel universe. Like Arthur Dent from "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy", if you do not have a Babel Fish in your ear this blog will be completely unintelligible to you and will read something like this: "boggle, google, snoggle, slurp, slurp, dingleberry to the power of 10". Fortunately, those who have had the Babel Fish inserted in their ear, will understood this blog perfectly. If you are familiar with this technology, you will know that the Babel Fish lives on brainwave radiation. It excretes energy in the form of exactly the correct brainwaves needed by its host to understand what was just said; or in this case, what was read. The Babel Fish, thanks to scientific research, reverses the problem defined by its namesake in the Tower of Babel, where a deity was supposedly inspired to confuse the human race by making them unable to understand each other.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

To BEE Or Not To BEE - That Is The BUZZ


Most religious people claim that morality, or the group ethic is based in a religious origin. This is a common claim, made often and repeatedly by most people of religious faith. I don't see any obvious correlation between god belief and morality. Neither god belief nor the lack of it, guarantees moral or ethical human behaviour.

I think that people cooperate because it is mutually advantageous. We are capable of natural feelings such as empathy, sympathy, remorse etc. Our natural abilities to empathize with other humans forms the basis of what we consider to be moral or ethical. There are rare people who are termed sociopathic, who apparently are incapable of these emotions, but for the vast majority of us these human emotions allow us, by understanding our own needs, to understand the needs of others. So, I think that morality has as much to do with our genetic origins than it has with any hierarchial supernatural construct that we have devised in an attempt to keep people in line. (By hierarchial supernatural construct, I mean god belief.)

Primatologists like Frans de Waal have long argued that the roots of human morality are evident in social animals like apes and monkeys. The animals’ feelings of empathy and expectations of reciprocity are essential behaviors for mammalian group living and can be regarded as a counterpart of human morality. Marc D. Hauser, a Harvard biologist, has built on this idea to propose that people are born with a moral grammar wired into their neural circuits by evolution. In a new book, “Moral Minds” (HarperCollins 2006), he argues that the grammar generates instant moral judgments which, in part because of the quick decisions that must be made in life-or-death situations, are inaccessible to the conscious mind. It implies that parents and teachers are not teaching children the rules of correct behavior from scratch but are, at best, giving shape to an innate behavior. And it suggests that religions are not the source of moral codes but, rather, social enforcers of instinctive moral behavior. (From Atheist Girl)

I would also draw your attention to a recent study concerning bees and behaviour. Just recently scientists mapped the bee genome. They were interested to try and explain why it was evolutionary advantageous for worker bees to be sterile and to invest all their time and life caring for the eggs of a single queen bee. What they observed was that in some hives, a small percentage of bees which were usually worker bees and sterile, were actually laying eggs in the hive given the opportunity.

They called these bees "anarchist bees" because their behaviour conflicted with the usual reproductive and social pattern exhibited within the hive. By mapping the genome of a "normal worker bee" and that of one of these "anarchist bees", they were able to compare the differences in their genomes. What they found was that the "anarchist bees" did not have the reproductive indicators turned off which would have made them sterile. Instead they were fertile, just as the queens were. The scientists wondered why a small % of bees exhibited with genomes which expressed this physical behaviour.

They conducted an experiment whereby they seeded a hive with a queen and a much larger collection of "anarchist bees" than would normally be present in a hive. The result was inevitably disasterous for the hive. When nearly all the bees were trying to lay eggs, there were not enough sterile bees to do the work, and the social structure of the hive collapsed. It was always wondered what evolutionary advantage sterility might have considering that fertility is the key to passing on genes. And why would such a large population of bees bar one, the queen, invest all their energies and life into the rearing of another bee's young?

Essentially, sterility IS an evolutionary advantage for bee hives. Scientists refer to this sterility as "genetic altruism." "Altruistic" in the sense that the majority of bees have, through natural selection, waived their "rights" to breed, in favour of the continuation of the hive and the continuation of the species. This suggests that what we may consider as a moral behaviour or ethical behaviour, namely altruism, has been natural selected in bees and is expressed genetically.

I also think that natural selection in human beings has resulted in the genetic expression of moral traits and ethical traits. Many religions preach the code of selflessness, non-ego, putting others first etc (and however slse it can be expressed); however, the majority of people, even when they say they adher to such a code, find that it is extremely difficult to put this code into practice. Personally, I think it is an unrealistic code for a number of reasons.

Although I believe that conscious acts of “altruism” may be considered worthy and perhaps even noble, I doubt that it is possible to physically survive for extended periods of time if altruism didn't have a payoff for either the individual or the group to which the individual belongs. I think it is in contradition to our “genetic instructions” (yes, whatever that means - gene expression, perhaps) - to behaviourally demonstrate altruism which doesn't have a payoff.

Where does this concept of self sacrifice, or putting the needs of others first originate? Well, as an atheist, I think that these human attributes and predispositions are to be found in gene expression. For example, it is demonstrated in nature that many animal mothers will place themselves in considerable harm in order to preserve their family. It is also demonstrated in nature that male animals will fight off the attentions of other males in order to preserve the pride, pack, group. In both instances they are examples of what we may consider to be "altruistic behaviours." These supposed "altruistic behaviours" though, do include a payoff to the individual and also to the group. So, even though we may incorrectly label them as "acts of altruism," they are essentially acts of self interest.

So, animals and humans both has a sense of what it is preserve a group. But essentially, their interest to preserve the group through self sacrifice might merely be that of self interest. In other words, they are prepared to put self last only as an act of self interest. (Sounds contradictory, I know.) They have a vested interest in the preservation of the particular group to which they belong which may exclude their act of self sacrifice as being an act of altruism.

We define an altruistic act as an act or behaviour where we put the needs of others above the needs of self. But, as I have suggested, acts of altruism can just as easily be seen as acts of self interest. For example: Politicians regularly “fall on their swords” in order to preserve that which they consider to be the integrity, or worth of the party to which they belong. Religious fanatics regularly sacrifice their very lives in order to preserve (as they see it), the belief system of the religious group to which they belong. And of course soldiers of every nation have sacrificed their lives for the same ideal; the preservation of the group/nation/political ideology to which they identify.

In the example of the politician, the religious fanatic, or the soldier, the act of self sacrifice emulates the instinctual act in the animal kingdom. The political party has become the family/pride/flock. The religious group has become the family etc and the nation for which the soldier fights for has become the family etc. In other words, these groups have become for all intents and purposes, the families that we would like to preserve. If these groups (religious, political, cultural etc) become synonmous psychologically with the concept of the family or pack, are these acts ones of self sacrifice or are they an instinct to preserve self by preserving the group?

When the group that one identifies with becomes synonymous with the self, the case could be made that self sacrifice isn’t putting oneself last, it may just be putting oneself first. Preserving the group might become preserving self when personal identification with the group is so psychologically compelling. Perhaps the groups and the ideologies which human beings are capable of identifying with, tap into our naturally occurring, naturally selected predisposition to preserve self by preserving the group. Like the honey bee, the lion, and animals of other species, we may only be acting upon a naturally selected predisposition to enhance survival.





"BEE" Gees - "Stayin' Alive"

Link

44 Comments:

Blogger L>T said...

Very interesting idea to look at the instinctive behavior of animals as a counterpart to human morality. I have always hated when christians pull that "morality comes from God" card. Even though I refuse to believe it i've never come up with a convincing argument against it except that morality is ultimately self-serving & thus comes from us. This idea gives morality a biologial spin. definately food for thought.
Thanks!

25/1/07 2:06 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE lt:

You're welcome. I am glad it made sense to someone.

25/1/07 2:09 pm  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

BBIM:
A lot of that put me in mind of Kohlberg's stages of moral development.
http://www.answers.com/topic/kohlberg-s-stages-of-moral-development
Level 1 (Pre-Conventional)
1. Obedience and punishment orientation
2. Self-interest orientation
( What's in it for me?)
Level 2 (Conventional)
3. Interpersonal accord and conformity
( The good boy/good girl attitude)
4. Authority and social-order maintaining orientation
( Law and order morality)
Level 3 (Post-Conventional)
5. Social contract orientation
6. Universal ethical principles
( Principled conscience)

& I can't resist: I suppose that the anarchist bees' hive fell apart because they all wanted to 'bee' happy? Hehehehe.

25/1/07 3:25 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE ka:

"Bee" jokes are allowed. I even made a stab at one myself by adding the "BEE" Gees track of "stayin' Alive."

And yes, it is interesting that you mention Kohlberg's stages of moral development.

25/1/07 3:45 pm  
Blogger Matt said...

beepbeep,

Hey, I actually haven't read this post yet but I wanted to comment on free will.

If you were speeding towards a cliff in a car with cut brakes and you had a decision whether to stay in the car and fall to your death or jump out and possibly live, wouldn't that still be free will?

I can see where many people would choose to stay in the car. You know, it's comfortable, you have the radio, the AC, and a cushy seat. And it requires no faith, you've been there the whole car trip and you might not even survive if you jumped out of the car so you might die either way, right? So, it would appear that it's a viable option for people to just stay in the car and see what happens at the bottom of the cliff.

I just see that scenario as a more accurate representation of the Christian worldview. The law of Sin and death is in place and unavoidable as the law of gravity and the approaching cliff. And it is our decision whether or not to accept God's way of avoiding what's coming for everyone. A life or death decision but still a choice, right?

Anyways, off to read the current post.

-Matt

25/1/07 6:19 pm  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

matt:
If you were speeding towards a cliff in a car with cut brakes and you had a decision whether to stay in the car and fall to your death or jump out and possibly live, wouldn't that still be free will?
Oh, you have GOT to be kidding me! There's only 1 person I can think of who'd be that ridiculous, & that's Homer Simpson.
& he's ANOTHER fictional character.
I think the only time 'free will' would play into it, is if said driver was suicidal.

25/1/07 6:35 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE matt:

I think the problem with your analogy is that:

1. We know that cars exist.
2. We know that cliffs exist.
3. We have evidence of what happens if a person in a car runs over a cliff.
4. We have evidence of what happens if we jump out of a moving car.

I don't need to have faith that something bad will happen to me in both instances, as the probability, based on empirical evidence, is that it is most likely that either way I am going to suffer some physical damage.

The decision in the car analogy, is to ascertain how much damage either decision will result in.

Do I take the risk of staying in the car and hoping that the shrubs and trees on the edge of the cliff will break the car's fall?

Do I take the risk of leaping from the car and incurring a broken neck on the culvert as I attempt to roll away from the speeding car?

These are all decisions which can be made, or not made, because one has empirical knowledge concerning the events which are taking place.

One also doesn't have to have faith that there is only one correct response, as any of the responses may prove to be either beneficial or harmful.

In the car analogy you are also leaving out the part where someone has told you that it is ALWAYS best to leap out of the car. That in fact, leaping out of the car is the ONLY way which you will survive.

No one can know that leaping out of the car is the only way someone would survive such a scenario. It would take faith to believe that.

But if a person is taught or indoctrinated to believe that leaping out of the car is the ONLY way to survive, their fear of death will force them to make a decision which may not be beneficial. In fact, they may have been intimidated and coerced through fear, to make a decision which could be wrong.

If one believes that only ONE course of action will lead to safety and this faith is the result of intimidation, fear and coercion, then one's ability to make a decision based in freewill has been impaired.

It has been impaired because of the fear which has been instilled in the individual if they do not make the choice which they are instructed is the ONLY choice.

In the heaven or hell analogy, it requires faith that either of those places exist. It also requires faith that only one of these responses is beneficial and that the other is completely harmful.

So in the heaven or hell analogy, the individual has had their freewill impaired as if they believe that those options are true, then they do not have a choice.

So, to answer your question simply.
In the car analogy you suppose, I have freewill to either stay with the car, or to leap from it. I have freewill to roll away from the car, or to hope that trees will hinder the path of the car to the bottom of the cliff.

However, my freewill has been impaired if prior to finding myself in the speeding car, I have been indoctrinated to believe that ONLY by leaping from the car will I be saved, and that by staying with the car will lead to certain death.

25/1/07 7:15 pm  
Blogger Matt said...

beepbeep,

Heh, I didn't think I was going to get away with painting that picture. I guess I'm starting with the premise that we know that the law of Sin and death exists and that Christ is the only one that told us the way to avoid it; hence, an accurate representation of a Christian worldview. But, yeah, the scenario falls apart after taking those away.

Another way to say it is that we are standing in a wheat field and we know that a fire is coming and you can choose whether or not to stand where the field has already been burnt and thus avoid the fire. Fire being the death we deserve and the place already burned is ''in Christ'' wherein He took death for us. But yeah, that analogy has the same problems, and that, I suppose, is the same problem Jesus faced when telling his parables: explaining the unknown and unseen with the known and seen.

These scenarios, as opposed to your vacuum cleaner story, have a functional connection between accepting information and that information allowing you to avoid something that is already in place: Death is already coming for all but Christ takes that death if you have faith in Him. And, his resurrection gives his claim credibility. In your analogy, the vacuum cleaner offers no intelligible function in the avoidance of the inevitable strong-man. It's just an arbitrary ultimatum. Buy this vacuum or I'll send the strong-man. Maybe it should be this: ''A strong-man is on his way to your house and, if you invite me in, I'll protect you from him.''

I'm not sure how this stands to a stringent logic-based criticism, but this is just how I understand Christianity as opposed to your analogies, which, in my opinion, aren't theologically accurate.

The current post is interesting, btw. You can probably expect my equally biased perspective on it in a later comment of mine. ;)

Thanks,

-Matt

26/1/07 11:22 am  
Blogger MichaelBains said...

Great essay, Beep! As with the fact that humans Are animals, no one who's studied morality using the scientific method has any doubts that the phenomenon is far from exclusive to homo.

As with nearly all the intellectual phenotypes (gene expressions) though, it is extraordinarily well-developed in us. That's all. Books like Marc Hauser's are just presenting new empirical evidence in predicted and sometimes quite unexpected ways.

Dawkins laces The God Delusion with references to this sort of research*. Though of mostly the pre-genome variety, that book is recent enough that he speaks of scientists' genetic and behavioral research as well.

BTW, I do think staying in the car or leaping out is a matter of free will. As is quitting smoking/drinking/heroin/Pez... whatever addiction is ruining one's life. Intelligence is just an incredibly developed instinct after all, so sometimes (HA!) it takes more than rational thought to figure out what one really wants.

Alas, sometimes, we don't get that much time to will our own actions into being.

Sometimes, we just gotta hope we're either very Lucky or very Loved, which latter state seems to imbue Stayin' Alive with much more subconscious desirability.

{-;


* Chapter 7 is where I've got, so far. On why religions, as you describe, aren't necessary for creating morality, just couching it culturally "flavored" forms.

26/1/07 11:22 am  
Blogger MichaelBains said...

Heh! Since I tend to NOT read comments before commenting on the post, I only noticed the beginning of the Free Will thread.

Your "indoctrination" caveat is exactly the kind of thing I meant with my "Love" bit, only the one is more, umm, positive(?) than the other.

Coolish. :)

(As is the AWESOME "Free Will" YouTube you posted. "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice." Duh! LOL! Thanks!)

26/1/07 11:36 am  
Anonymous ted said...

Nice one Beep. I hate the whole "morality comes from god" thing and this put a new spin on it for me...:)

Thanks...:)

26/1/07 12:11 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE matt:

"Heh, I didn't think I was going to get away with painting that picture. I guess I'm starting with the premise that we know that the law of Sin and death exists and that Christ is the only one that told us the way to avoid it."

You have faith that the religious law of sin and death is true. I don't.

26/1/07 12:11 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE michael:

Yeah, the chorus is pretty good.

"You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice.
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill;
I will choose a path that's clear
I will choose freewill." - Rush

Re ted:

Glad ya liked it. :)

26/1/07 12:19 pm  
Anonymous Jeff Guinn said...

This post reminds me of The Story of the Moral, and its follow on discussion.

It tackles the whole notion of morality being impossible unless it is divinely inspired.

The comments are extensive, and very thoughtful on both sides. It will take awhile, but it is worth the read.

Perhaps I am biased, but it seems to me those advocating the necessity of Divinity come off decidedly second best.

27/1/07 4:10 pm  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

matt:
Another way to say it is that we are standing in a wheat field and we know that a fire is coming and you can choose whether or not to stand where the field has already been burnt and thus avoid the fire.
You keep up those suicidal analogies, you're gonna start worrying me.
Who on earth would EVER take the choice of standing & getting krispy-fried, or go over the cliff in the car?
Someone w/a death-wish, that's who.

27/1/07 6:10 pm  
Blogger Matt said...

krystalline,

hmm, I don't think I was clear...death IS coming whether we like it or not and, as far as I believe, Christ is the One who took death and conquered it.

We do not choose to be in a situation where death is emminent but, sadly, that is our situation. I am not painting a sudicidal picture but a picture that tells of the harsh realism that death is coming and that the Christian worldview tells of a way to avoid death: faith in the One that conquered it. Sorry if my (hypothetical) analogies weren't clear in expressing that.

-Matt

PS

But, you said it best. Choosing to not stand in the burnt area or going over the cliff IS suicidal...my sentiments exactly.

27/1/07 6:50 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE jeff: Thanks for visiting and thanks for the link.

27/1/07 9:10 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE matt:

I think the part you haven't quite got is that it requires relgious faith to believe that heaven or hell are the options.

I think it is safe to say that most people realize that death is inevitable. It is just that some of us don't believe that the options are "everlasting death and torment or everlasting life and happiness."

With any of the other analogies used it doesn't take faith to realize that either of the options are possible. But in the heaven or hell situation, it DOES take faith to believe that out of the 2 options given, that they BOTH exist and that there is ONLY ONE of those positions that is desirable.

27/1/07 9:17 pm  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

matt:
hmm, I don't think I was clear...death IS coming whether we like it or not and, as far as I believe, Christ is the One who took death and conquered it.
Well, just because death is coming (I think he's just breathing heavy...hehehehe), it certainly doesn't mean I'm gonna stand there doe-eyed & dopey smiled.
I think it is safe to say that most people realize that death is inevitable. It is just that some of us don't believe that the options are "everlasting death and torment or everlasting life and happiness."
There's a THIRD choice? Do tell!
With any of the other analogies used it doesn't take faith to realize that either of the options are possible. But in the heaven or hell situation, it DOES take faith to believe that out of the 2 options given, that they BOTH exist and that there is ONLY ONE of those positions that is desirable.
Believe or burn.
Drat. Excluded middle writ large. Argument from force.
I'd rather be shut off like a light bulb when I die. That way, I don't have to listen to the moans of the tormented.

28/1/07 9:24 am  
Blogger Matt said...

beepbeep,

Point well taken. But, even if you take the idea of heaven and hell out of it and just say that we know death is real and one person has been said to have conquered it and that man said that, to do the same, you must trust in him then, in that mode of thinking, it would mean certain death to not trust in him. That was my whole point and it was originally to just clarify the christian worldview. But I know that requires faith in the claims of the bible.

-Matt

PS

If the genetic altruism idea can be applied to humans then how can there be any accountability for the moral choices we make? If my propensity to walk grandmothers across the street and steal, rape and murder are simply the expression of my genetics then you've just reduced all individuals to a confluence of forces outside of their control, and surely that genetic expression reaches beyond just moral choices; so in other words, is there no free will? Is your unbelief as determined as my belief; are we robots debating in vain?

28/1/07 1:04 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Any accountability is one which we consider when we are alive.

I really don't see the point or the sense in saying to someone "You just wait until you are dead." It even seems slightly insane to suggest it.

To me, the idea of saying, "heaven or hell" is like me saying to someone, "If you don't agree with me, you will get cancer." - and then pretending that you gave them a choice. Some people might be convinced that I am capable and willing to curse them with disease, and as a result, they might agree with me. But they haven't really had freewill to do so, because as soon as I have threatened them with something and they believe that I can or would do it; then they have had their ability to consent freely (without fear or favour), impaired.

28/1/07 4:49 pm  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

matt:
If the genetic altruism idea can be applied to humans then how can there be any accountability for the moral choices we make? If my propensity to walk grandmothers across the street and steal, rape and murder are simply the expression of my genetics then you've just reduced all individuals to a confluence of forces outside of their control, and surely that genetic expression reaches beyond just moral choices; so in other words, is there no free will?
So lemmee see if I got this straight:
Your deity slaps together this haphazard being called Man from clay. In the meantime, he builds evil into the mix. Sets up his children for failure UNLESS they respond to a specific formula. If they DON'T stick w/the game plan, they burn in hell.
Where is the free will, I ask you? Does any of that sound like free will? Hey, does any of that sound like bad parenting? Bad design?
It's primitive reasoning. No logic, just guesswork. Poor guesswork, at that.

28/1/07 4:57 pm  
Blogger Matt said...

beepbeep,

I understand what you are saying but I think you are dancing around both my points.

First, I think you have the causality backwards in your example. I'm not saying "agree with me or you'll get cancer" I'm saying "look, death is already a real prospect for you, we know it is already coming for everyone, but we have a hope in one man that conquered that which is already coming." It's not a curse that's hurled on you if you don't agree. If your inevitable death (not a contingent curse) is a scary prospect for you there is a hope: A hope to avoid something that is proven to be coming.

And I'm sorry, I can't see how it is not free will to take part in that hope even if fear is a motivator. I don't understand the premise that free will is usurped once fear is involved. My mom instilled fear in me to not touch the stove when I was a child, but I still did, and I found that heeding such warnings can be a very good survival technique. Fear was involved, I chose freely with consent and paid the consequence. And just because the choice is about life and death it does not take "choice" out of it.

But in the end, I see christianity as a hope for life not a threat of death. It's a pity that people attempt to scare others into believing.

Second, I think I was really unclear with the accountablity thing. I certainly think we should be accountable for what we do or don't do here and now. But, my point was that if everything we do, say and think is genetically determined where does that leave us as free individuals? How can I be blamed for what my genes tell me (or don't tell me) to do?

krytalline:

There's a difference between not believing in God and not agreeing with the way He does things. The story can be told in whatever anectodal tone you like but that doesn't disprove anything. I believe that God created beings with free will and subsequently there was the potential for the rejection of God, and thus evil and death. God must have seen that the existence of freedom is worth the possibilty of death.

Would you choose not to bring a child into the world because there is the potential for it to suffer? But then again, how could that be up to you to choose? Your genetics have pre-determined whether or not you will be an alturistic, babyless bee.

28/1/07 9:59 pm  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

matt:
There's a difference between not believing in God and not agreeing with the way He does things.
As best I can tell, there's nobody at the helm. Never was, judging from history.
The story can be told in whatever anectodal tone you like but that doesn't disprove anything.
Que?
I believe that God created beings with free will and subsequently there was the potential for the rejection of God, and thus evil and death. God must have seen that the existence of freedom is worth the possibilty of death.
Again, what freedom? If there's no multiple choice, it's not much freedom at all, is there? 'Either/or' constitutes a 'my way or the highway' POV - no leeway whatsoever.
Believe or burn.

29/1/07 7:54 am  
Blogger Matt said...

Just because the stakes are high does not mean there's no choice.

29/1/07 10:26 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

matt:
Just because the stakes are high does not mean there's no choice.
Blogger, please.
Just because there's a bible doesn't mean there's a gawd.

29/1/07 12:46 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

There is no freewill and no real choice if the choice is elicited through fear.

As I said, do you consider it a case of freewill if a woman has the options of rape with violence or rape without?

I don't, and neither does the legal system.

If you choose to not make a choice, by the analogy, you still rot in hell.

If the woman doesn't make a choice, she still gets raped.

29/1/07 8:25 pm  
Blogger Matt said...

That's a pretty solid argument. Can I use it the next time the government demands that I pay taxes?

Uncle Sam: ''Matt, you owe us money.''

Matt: ''Do I have choices?''

Uncle Sam: ''Yes, pay or go to jail.''

Matt: ''What if I choose not to make a choice?''

Uncle Sam: ''Then you, not having paid, go to jail.''

Matt: ''Well I don't like any of my choices, and jail is scary so you are making me choose through fear. And that's not right, let me tell you about this woman that gets raped no matter what choices she makes and-''

Uncle Sam: ''Cuff this whinny fool.''

31/1/07 10:45 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE matt

The problem is that the choices offered by the government we know to exist.
1. I don't have to have faith that the government exists.
2.Nor do I have to have faith that I am supposed to pay taxes.
3.Also I don't have to have faith that jail or a fine is the reult of not obeying the law.

So, we know that these things exist. We don't need to have faith that they exist for these various results or punishments to occur. They are evidenced WITHOUT requiring faith in them.

And you do have freewill when it comes to paying taxes. The options are many.

I can :

1. Choose to pay it.
2. Choose not to pay it.
3. Choose to move to another country.
4. Choose bankruptsy.
5. Choose to have my assets in accounts like trusts which limit my taxes.
6. Choose to "hide" my income.
7. Choose to use a % of my income on tax deductible charities, therefore dimishing my taxable income.
8. Choose to apply for sovereignty of my own kingdom.

(and so on)

On the other hand, I don't know that the options of heaven and hell exist. It requires religious faith to accept those options as being true. I do not have religious faith that they are true, therefore they do not compel me to make a choice. In fact, because I have freewill, I don't have to make a choice.

Because I have freewill I have assessed that NEITHER of those options are worth considering.

If, on the other hand, I had faith those those WERE the two ONLY options, then I wouldn't have freewill.

I would just have faith, but I wouldn't have freewill.

31/1/07 11:40 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

matt:
On the other hand, I don't know that the options of heaven and hell exist. It requires religious faith to accept those options as being true. I do not have religious faith that they are true, therefore they do not compel me to make a choice. In fact, because I have freewill, I don't have to make a choice.
That's actually a good point.
Inaction is of itself a form of action.
If, on the other hand, I had faith those those WERE the two ONLY options, then I wouldn't have freewill.
Bingo. You don't have free will.
Enjoy.

31/1/07 6:58 pm  
Blogger Matt said...

Well of course you'd be compelled to accept Christ if you believed the claims in the bible...

What you're basically saying is that you're out of options once you choose to believe. The real choice is whether or not believe in the claims.

However, I think it's wrong to assume that every single person that accepts the biblical claims to be true always has faith in Christ. Some people, even when faced with what they believe to be true, choose to deny it(no matter how scary the consequences).

1/2/07 2:29 pm  
Blogger Matt said...

PS

Remind me again how you have freewill if materialism is true? How are you choosing freewill if everything can be reduced to material causes so that all things are locked in an unthinking, inescapable series of cause and effect wherein our decisions are determined by genetics and/or environmental causes?

1/2/07 2:37 pm  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

matt:
The real choice is whether or not believe in the claims.
True enough. Sadly, the 'claims' lack a great deal of veracity.
Some people, even when faced with what they believe to be true, choose to deny it(no matter how scary the consequences).
WTF? I don't believe any of it. So skip the inferred tu quoque, if you please.
Remind me again how you have freewill if materialism is true?
I never said.
How are you choosing freewill if everything can be reduced to material causes so that all things are locked in an unthinking, inescapable series of cause and effect wherein our decisions are determined by genetics and/or environmental causes?
There are choices that can be made.
Case in point: in ancient China, what you were born to is what normally you'd end up doing. A caste system of sorts. What made it unique, was that students could pass a master exam, & rise to the status of scholar, despite their background.
I think materialism is sweet: no supernatural crap, I get to decide.
Yes, the forces that surround us are mindless. We, however are not.
'The uninspired materialist says: “Man is distinguished from the animal only by consciousness; he is an animal, but one possessing consciousness in addition.” He does not take into account that a being who awakes to consciousness is thereby qualitatively changed.' - Feuerbach.

1/2/07 6:14 pm  
Blogger Matt said...

krystalline:

You're really saying that you think that no one has ever believed something to be true but then acted like it was not true??? They're called unwise decisions and people, including myself, make them everyday.

Materialists/Naturalists must come to terms with what they believe. Either everything is part of an interlocked physical system or it is not. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot say that everything can be explained by material causes but then say our minds are somehow acting indepedent of that interlocked system. If you say that, then you have allowed for the supernatural and your materialistic worldview falls apart.

1/2/07 6:32 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE matt:

I don't think anyone was saying that our minds are somehow acting independently of that interl;ocked system. (Whatever that means.)

I am not sure what you are talking about to be frank, but I will say that from my understanding of the world, the mind exists and is dependent upon matter. No matter, no mind.

My mind exists and I can contemplate the workings of my mind, because my mind is dependent upon matter. Brain matter.

I see no evidence that is compelling to me to believe that minds exist outside and independent of matter.

Theists have faith that minds can exist without matter. I don't.

1/2/07 7:39 pm  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

matt:
You're really saying that you think that no one has ever believed something to be true but then acted like it was not true??? They're called unwise decisions and people, including myself, make them everyday.
Where on earth did you get that drivel? If I meant that, I would say it.
Materialists/Naturalists must come to terms with what they believe. Either everything is part of an interlocked physical system or it is not. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot say that everything can be explained by material causes but then say our minds are somehow acting indepedent of that interlocked system. If you say that, then you have allowed for the supernatural and your materialistic worldview falls apart.
Everything IS a part of an interlocked system. Having a mind amidst mindless processes is NOT a contradiction in terms: it's easily observable. Just go wait in line at the DMV.
I suggest you go sign up for Allegories Anonymous today: it's obvious that it's doing you no good in terms of communicating effectively.

2/2/07 1:54 am  
Blogger Matt said...

Before going any further I just want to you thank y'all for the good discussion. And I apologize for being unclear.

Here's my point:

1.) All matter interacts based on natural laws.

2.) This interaction is observed as a chain reaction known as causality.

3.) Our brains are made of matter.

4.) Our minds are an expression of the interaction of that brain matter.

5.) Therefore, our minds are part of the chain reaction known as causality.

Simply put, if our minds are expressions of matter then they are trapped in causality, which all matter is subject to and thus our decisions are not our own. Choice must come from outside a purely physical universe; if not, it is determined by physical causes and there is no freewill. And it would seem that my mind is as free as a ball that is bouncing down stairs.

I'm sorry, I lack the verbal gymnastics to state this point more clearly.

But, I do want to point out the irony of saying how you choose freewill by not accepting christianity but then, a few blog entries later, describe how our moral decisions are an expression of genetics.

PS

I'm not denying the existence of the mind or even it's depedence on the brain for existence. I'm merely pointing out that if the mind is part of the interlocked system then there is no freewill.

Option 1 for materialists: all the workings of the mind can be traced back to physical causes therefore our choices are physically determined.

Option 2: the workings of the mind cannot be explained by physical causes. Therefore, the mind has supernatural qualities. (i.e. qualities that can never be explained in physical terms)

Our minds are either free or they are determined by physical causes. Materialists cannot have it both ways.

2/2/07 11:34 am  
Blogger Matt said...

heh, great, a typo in my first sentence, and the following sentence is an apology for being unclear, lol.

that first sentence should read ''Before going any further I want to thank you for the good discussion.''

2/2/07 12:28 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE matt:
We have freewill according to the breadth, depth and limits of our minds.

Now, one of the ways that our individual minds are limited is according to their dependence upon matter. But to assume that this wasn't a limitation (and a natural one), would be to assume that a mind can exist WITHOUT matter.

That is, to assume that there is a supernatural mind which is unrestrained by matter, time and space. This is religious faith. I don't have it.

I think that whatever limitations, or potentials, our individual human minds have, are the result of natural forces, not supernatural ones.

Therefore, gene expression, our environment, our nurture etc are the determining factors for how our brains will process information and come to conclusions.

The mind is an expression of brain function.

Sometimes I think that theists want to put the cart before the horse and claim that brain function is an expression of the mind. Which is precisely what they do. (The mind of god came first, then the matter then the human mind. Brain development in children is an interesting adjunct to this which I may be writing about in an upcoming post.)

We can only have the freewill which is associated within the scope of our indiviual human minds. After all, we are not discussing any other mind except our own. Unless you purport to be discussing the "mind of god."

I can only discuss the expressions of the human mind, I can't presume to be able to know or believe in the existence of a "god mind."

Does anyone know the absolute potentials or limitations of the human mind? I don't.

But not knowing the limits, if there are limits, or if there are no limits, wouldn't mean that I would choose to believe that a mind exists as an entity outside of matter. As to do this, requires religious faith, not scientific evidence.

2/2/07 1:26 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

PS:
For example - Your mind is limited by your faith that there are only 2 options. Heaven or hell. Therefore your mind doesn't have freewill as it has faith that these are the only 2 options and that these 2 options are absolutely true. Therefore this limitation of faith has impaired your freewill. If you are rendered incapable of considering other options, then you have forsaken freewill.

My mind concludes that the probability of either of these options being true, is low. That there may be many options, some of which I may not have contemplated yet. Therefore my mind is not limited to choosing between 2 options which may, for all intents and purposes, turn out to be false. I have exercised my freewill because I have not accepted that either of those scenarios are either true, or the only options.

2/2/07 1:43 pm  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

Matt:
Simply put, if our minds are expressions of matter then they are trapped in causality, which all matter is subject to and thus our decisions are not our own. Choice must come from outside a purely physical universe; if not, it is determined by physical causes and there is no freewill. And it would seem that my mind is as free as a ball that is bouncing down stairs.
Whoa, hold the bus there, skippy.
1st, you’ll have to give me some sort of scenario where we interact w/the supernatural. Otherwise, we’re working w/the physical world as we know it. 2nd, there’s plenty of free will in the way we live our lives: we make choices that impact the common good, benignly or malignly.
But, I do want to point out the irony of saying how you choose freewill by not accepting christianity but then, a few blog entries later, describe how our moral decisions are an expression of genetics.
I’d like to point out to you, the irony of claiming an either/or choice is free will AT ALL.
I'm not denying the existence of the mind or even it's depedence on the brain for existence. I'm merely pointing out that if the mind is part of the interlocked system then there is no freewill.
Maybe you should actually define ‘free will’, as there are several definitions, no?
Option 1 for materialists: all the workings of the mind can be traced back to physical causes therefore our choices are physically determined.
Correct. Of course they’re physically determined.
Option 2: the workings of the mind cannot be explained by physical causes. Therefore, the mind has supernatural qualities. (i.e. qualities that can never be explained in physical terms)
Incorrect. The workings of the mind can be determined by physical causes.
Our minds are either free or they are determined by physical causes. Materialists cannot have it both ways.
Wait: since when has ‘freedom’ been the same as the supernatural? It’s an abstraction solidified physically.
If there’s free will, there HAS to be a supernatural cause? Oh please.
What is free will? The ability to do as 1 wants? The ability to choose otherwise? If the HS student decides to be a doctor, or a lawyer, & acts on 1 path, is that not free will? We’re talking about making choices. Some are out of our hands: the chances of a black man in 19th CE US becoming a Senator, for instance. A Palistinean astronaut, for another.
You’re making a real slim case predicated on equivocation.
I see a pretty woman on the street. Either I go over & strike up a conversation, or I keep walking.
There. No supernatural crap involved.
Or: I see TWO pretty women, go over, & strike up a conversation. My choices multiply. If I'm smooth enough, maybe I can spend the night w/both of them? ;)

2/2/07 6:18 pm  
Blogger Matt said...

1)Again, the real choice in Christianity is accepting the claims, once that choice has been made then OF COURSE you are out of choices.

2.) You can obfuscate the point with describing the complexity of the mind or bringing up a myriad of variables but, in the end, if a person can explain why I chose a certain way through material causes then the choice was not my own but something determined since the beginning of the universe. Either it can be traced back to a chain of material cause and effect or it can't and if it can't then choice is a supernatural event.


It was good chatting with both of you. But, I feel that you aren't actually listening to what I'm saying, and any more dialog would be repetative and circular. And, maybe I'm also focusing too much on my own points to be fair to yours, so I guess we can just agree to disagree. But, it's been thought provoking, thanks!

3/2/07 3:26 pm  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

matt:
Again, the real choice in Christianity is accepting the claims, once that choice has been made then OF COURSE you are out of choices.
I think you're missing the point: there IS NO CHOICE.
You can obfuscate the point with describing the complexity of the mind or bringing up a myriad of variables but, in the end, if a person can explain why I chose a certain way through material causes then the choice was not my own but something determined since the beginning of the universe.
So you're saying you didn't really have a choice at all? Determinism, hmmm?
Either it can be traced back to a chain of material cause and effect or it can't and if it can't then choice is a supernatural event.
You're ascribing occult values to consciousness that really don't apply. It can be (probably) explained (by smarter folk than myself), but the big question is: would you listen?
I might add, the supernatural has a lousy track record.
It was good chatting with both of you. But, I feel that you aren't actually listening to what I'm saying, and any more dialog would be repetitive and circular.
Hey, I've been listening. I've walked this road a few times. Problem is, my experience has been that theists usually multiply entities needlessly, & require a 500 word minimum answer to the question, which they don't accept anyways.
I've tried to keep it simple, is all.
And, maybe I'm also focusing too much on my own points to be fair to yours, so I guess we can just agree to disagree. But, it's been thought provoking, thanks!
Well, you've been politer than most, I grant you that. It may be too late for this advice, but here goes:
Approach the issue not as 'Either/or', but rather, see if it holds up on its own, w/o assistance.
Peace out.

3/2/07 4:39 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Once you have accepted through faith that there are only 2 choices, you have impaired your ability to have freewill.

For example: If I accepted through faith that the only 2 choices possible were to 1. sacrifice my first born to Marduk or 2. my conscience will freeze to death in an emotional frozen tundra, my ability to exercise freewill is over.

3/2/07 7:38 pm  

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