Atheism and free will: proof that God exists.

5wize

Well-known member
It is not true that ALL Atheism is defined by the type of materialism implied here or what Sam Harris alone asserts about it. There are other, and in my opinion, better views. One is found in a book called Reinventing the Sacred by Stuart A. Kaufman and it more closely resembles my view of free will. It explores the a phenomenon called "emergence". You can reduce the set of material objects and actions found in materialism, like analyzing a pool table and the angles and forces that were applied to it in order to reconstruct perfectly how "things - the balls" got in the positions we find them in. We call that reducing things downward, or material reductionism.

However, there is another set of "things" that even though they are the products of these material downward reductions, they develop/evolve a whole different class of emergent "things" (biology, animals, minds) whose actions are not reducible downward to the sum of its parts, but instead start to act in the world laterally. That is to say that if enough material "things" are connected via the right reducible material actions, a thing emerges from that process that can act laterally in the world away, in a different direction, from its rote downward reduction. The actions and decisions of these lateral "emergent"actors are not backwards reducible to some set of always expected decisions or actions, but what they are, materially, is still downwardly reducible. Atheists just don't see a need for God in order for these laterally acting emergent things to exist.

Difficult stuff to comprehend... took me awhile. I wouldn't blame anyone that says "huh?" to that.
 
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Caroljeen

Well-known member
It is not true that ALL Atheism is defined by the type of materialism implied here or what Sam Harris alone asserts about it. There are other, and in my opinion, better views. One is found in a book called Reinventing the Sacred by Stuart A. Kaufman and it more closely resembles my view of free will. It explores the a phenomenon called "emergence". You can reduce the set of material objects and actions found in materialism, like analyzing a pool table and the angles and forces that were applied to it in order to reconstruct perfectly how "things - the balls" got in the positions we find them in. We call that reducing things downward, or material reductionism.

However, there is another set of "things" that even though they are the products of these material downward reductions, they develop/evolve a whole different class of emergent "things" (biology, animals, minds) whose actions are not reducible downward to the sum of its parts, but instead start to act in the world laterally. That is to say that if enough material "things" are connected via the right reducible material actions, a thing emerges from that process that can act laterally in the world away, in a different direction, from its rote downward reduction. The actions and decisions of these lateral "emergent"actors are not backwards reducible to some set of always expected decisions or actions, but what they are, materially, is still downwardly reducible. Atheists just don't see a need for God in order for these laterally acting emergent things to exist.

Difficult stuff to comprehend... took me awhile. I wouldn't blame anyone that says "huh?" to that.
What do you meant to "act in the world laterally"? What are these "laterally acting emergent things"? What are they made of?
Are you talking about "thoughts", "emotions", "rationality", "dreams", etc. Are these emergent things equivalent to what a Christian might call the soul, spirit, the mind, or person.

Do atheists have a free will? How is that explained in your view above?
I learn by askng questions. You are not being specific but vague in your description of what this emergent thing is, what it is composed of, and does it come and go or is it a new thing, a product of the workings of our brain? Can it be examined under a microscope and dissected out of cadaver? Is it composed of matter?
 

Caroljeen

Well-known member
Materialism is not implied by - is not a necessary consequence of - atheism. An atheist who is a dualist, believing in the material and the non-material - is not a logical contradiction.
Where does the non-material come from? Are you a dualist? Are you referencing reincarnation?
 

5wize

Well-known member
What do you meant to "act in the world laterally"?
To act with a sentient will and not as some material, mechanical rote reduction.
What are these "laterally acting emergent things"?
What are they made of?
The sentence extraction I used was...

However, there is another set of "things" that even though they are the products of these material downward reductions, they develop/evolve a whole different class of emergent "things" (biology, animals, minds) whose actions are not reducible downward to the sum of its parts, but instead start to act in the world laterally.
Are you talking about "thoughts", "emotions", "rationality", "dreams", etc. Are these emergent things equivalent to what a Christian might call the soul, spirit, the mind, or person.
Thoughts, "emotions", "rationality" and "dreams" emerge from those "emergent" material things outlined above.
Do atheists have a free will? How is that explained in your view above?
Yes we do. It is explained by the "emergence" of a certain class of material things (you, me, cats, dogs, frogs) that can make decisions above and beyond their rote material mechanics.
I learn by askng questions. You are not being specific but vague in your description of what this emergent thing is, what it is composed of, and does it come and go or is it a new thing,
They are new things that come and go.
a product of the workings of our brain?
Yes
Can it be examined under a microscope and dissected out of cadaver?
Yes and no. Yes in the sense that you can trace the impulses of specific thinking in the brain, no in the sense that you can't predict or see the thought itself.
Is it composed of matter?
Like above, yes and no. An immeasurable thing (a thought) "emerges" from something measurable, a notable and traceable impulse in the brain.
 
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The Pixie

Well-known member
Can you tell me what free will actually is?

If I have a choice of A and B, and at that moment in time A is the better choice for whatever reasons, perhaps short term, perhaps long term, do I have free will if I always choose A? Is it free will if sometimes I choose B at random?

If you say, well maybe you choose B because the situation or your mood is different, you are missing the point. Whatever the situation, whatever your mental state, we are assuming A seems to you at that moment the better option.

So either you always pick A, which would seem to be determinism, or you sometimes pick B for no reason and you are acting at random.

So where is the free will?
 

Eightcrackers

Well-known member
"P1. If there is no god, free will cannot exist."

Even if this premise is granted,

"P2. free will exists..."

is not.
That would have to be demonstrated.

And the very best of luck to anybody who tries to demonstrate that free will exists...

(The video presumes - without justification - that free will is required in order to convince, and in order to be convinced.)
 

Whatsisface

Well-known member
I might be wrong about this, but, at 3:33 in the video there is a quote attributed to Jerry Coyne, "Now, many of you don't accept that, you don't believe you are robots made of meat, which is what I'm going to try to convince you of today".

My point here is that I've only ever heard Christian apologists talk of us being robots made of meat as a consequence of atheism. It sounds deflationary and comes across as an attack on atheism along the lines of, this is the awful thing atheists must think which is obviously ridiculous.

So I've had a look for the quote and so far I have been unable to find it. I have found a lecture by Jerry Coyne where he talks about us not having free will but I have been unable to find him saying robots made of meat. Certainly, the picture of Coyne with the quote is not from the lecture he supposedly said these things, and the lecture with the picture is not about free will.

Again, I might be wrong, but I wonder if the quote attributed to Jerry Coyne has been embellished. It certainly wouldn't be the first time atheists have been misrepresented in this way.
 

Eightcrackers

Well-known member
My point here is that I've only ever heard Christian apologists talk of us being robots made of meat as a consequence of atheism. It sounds deflationary and comes across as an attack on atheism along the lines of, this is the awful thing atheists must think.
The problem with atheism, is that there's nothing to attack - atheism is not an assertion, not a belief; it is the state of not being convinced of theism. It's no wonder that apologists have to glom extras onto it that can be attacked.

My position is that we don't have free will, but the determinism is so complex that we will never be able to perceive it it, so we might as well have free will.

It's akin to a game whose rules are so complicated that, to an uninitiated spectator, it's as though there are no rules at all.
 

Caroljeen

Well-known member
To act with a sentient will and not as some material, mechanical rote reduction.

The sentence extraction I used was...

However, there is another set of "things" that even though they are the products of these material downward reductions, they develop/evolve a whole different class of emergent "things" (biology, animals, minds) whose actions are not reducible downward to the sum of its parts, but instead start to act in the world laterally.

Thoughts, "emotions", "rationality" and "dreams" emerge from those "emergent" material things outlined above.

Yes we do. It is explained by the "emergence" of a certain class of material things (you, me, cats, dogs, frogs) that can make decisions above and beyond their rote material mechanics.

They are new things that come and go.

Yes

Yes and no. Yes in the sense that you can trace the impulses of specific thinking in the brain, no in the sense that you can't predict or see the thought itself.

Like above, yes and no. An immeasurable thing (a thought) "emerges" from something measurable, a notable and traceable impulse in the brain.
Your response is as satisfactory as mine would be for what is a soul. It's difficult to explain.Is there anything else in the material world that can be compared to it? A material thing that causes a nonmaterial thing to emerge? Or were you saying that thoughts are material things/
 
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Caroljeen

Well-known member
Can you tell me what free will actually is?

If I have a choice of A and B, and at that moment in time A is the better choice for whatever reasons, perhaps short term, perhaps long term, do I have free will if I always choose A? Is it free will if sometimes I choose B at random?

If you say, well maybe you choose B because the situation or your mood is different, you are missing the point. Whatever the situation, whatever your mental state, we are assuming A seems to you at that moment the better option.

So either you always pick A, which would seem to be determinism, or you sometimes pick B for no reason and you are acting at random.

So where is the free will?
You used your free will to choose to respond to the content presented in the video. You didn't have to respond, you choose to. The free will is evident because you don't always choose A.
 

Caroljeen

Well-known member
"P1. If there is no god, free will cannot exist."

Even if this premise is granted,

"P2. free will exists..."

is not.
That would have to be demonstrated.

And the very best of luck to anybody who tries to demonstrate that free will exists...

(The video presumes - without justification - that free will is required in order to convince, and in order to be convinced.)
I'm not following your reasoning.
 

Caroljeen

Well-known member
I might be wrong about this, but, at 3:33 in the video there is a quote attributed to Jerry Coyne, "Now, many of you don't accept that, you don't believe you are robots made of meat, which is what I'm going to try to convince you of today".

My point here is that I've only ever heard Christian apologists talk of us being robots made of meat as a consequence of atheism. It sounds deflationary and comes across as an attack on atheism along the lines of, this is the awful thing atheists must think which is obviously ridiculous.

So I've had a look for the quote and so far I have been unable to find it. I have found a lecture by Jerry Coyne where he talks about us not having free will but I have been unable to find him saying robots made of meat. Certainly, the picture of Coyne with the quote is not from the lecture he supposedly said these things, and the lecture with the picture is not about free will.

Again, I might be wrong, but I wonder if the quote attributed to Jerry Coyne has been embellished. It certainly wouldn't be the first time atheists have been misrepresented in this way.
I didn't look for proof that Coyne said such a thing, meat robots, before I posted the video.This is all I can find so far. The second link quotes Coyne.


 

The Pixie

Well-known member
You used your free will to choose to respond to the content presented in the video.
I did so because it seemed a better choice at that moment than not responding. Is that free will?

You didn't have to respond, you choose to. The free will is evident because you don't always choose A.
Why would I not choose A given A appears to me right at this moment to be the better choice? I seriously do not understand what free will is. To me, if A seems the better choice, I will always pick A. And if I do not, it is just random. I think we do always pick A, where A is what seems the better choice at that moment.
 

Caroljeen

Well-known member
I'm not even sure the non-material exists, I was merely pointing out the error in the video you posted: atheism does not entail materialism.
I have difficulty understanding how someone who believes in evolution without God can believe in non-materialism. Where does the non-material things come from if they don't evolve from matter?
 

Caroljeen

Well-known member
Again, I might be wrong, but I wonder if the quote attributed to Jerry Coyne has been embellished. It certainly wouldn't be the first time atheists have been misrepresented in this way.
I found this . minute 1:37- " You are robots made out of meat."

 
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Caroljeen

Well-known member
"Free will cannot exist without a god" is an assertion, not an argument.
The argument was presented in the video. At least the argument that there is no free will if you are a materialistic evolutionist. Therefore a nonmaterial source is required to have a free will. Therefore God.
 
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